Pickleball is seeing a popularity boom, now taking the distinction of “America’s fastest-growing sport” for the second year in a row. If you’ve seen people on tennis courts doing something that looks generally tennis-like but not quite, you’ve probably witnessed the pickleball craze. Luckily, if you’re a camper interested in trying this sport out, there are many campgrounds with pickle ball courts!
To create a list of must-visit campgrounds, we asked Recess Pickleball to pick their favorite campgrounds on Campspot. Read the full list below to see where you should visit next!
But first, some context for the pickleball curious.
History of Pickleball
With the recent explosion in popularity, you might think pickleball is a recent invention. In fact, pickleball is more than half a century old! Originating in 1965, the game of pickleball was created near Seattle in Bainbridge Island, Washington by Congressman Joel Pritchard, businessman Bill Bell, and their friend Barney McCallum.
Originally, Bell and Pritchard set out to play badminton, but they didn’t have all the proper equipment. They used table tennis paddles and a perforated plastic ball, playing at a badminton net height (five feet). Once they realized this ball bounced quite nicely on the badminton court, they lowered the height to three feet, and the game continued. The following weekend, McCallum joins them, and the three of them created the rules for pickleball.
But Why Did They Do it?
Well, like many great inventions, they were bored. They needed something to keep the kids busy and had to get creative. They wanted to create a game that the entire family could pick up easily and play together, regardless of skill differences— a huge part of the reason for pickleball’s popularity to this day.
By the mid-1970s, an official corporation was founded around pickleball, and the world’s first pickleball tournament took place. 30 years later, the USA Pickleball Association, the sport’s official governing body, was created. The rest is history.
How to Play Pickleball
Pickleball isn’t entirely different from tennis or badminton, but there are some key differences. The game is played on a badminton-sized court (20’x44’) and is served diagonally across the court. Unlike tennis, only the side that serves can score.
You must let the ball bounce once before returning, and there’s a seven-foot “no volley zone” on each side of the net. The server keeps serving until faulting. The game is played to eleven with a win by two (or more) points requirement, much like table tennis.
There are specific nuances to serving and volleying in pickleball, much as there are certain unique elements of strategy. You can visit Pickleball’s official website for greater details if you’re interested.
You may not be planning your trips around the top campgrounds with pickleball courts just yet, but if there’s already a court at the location, why not try it out?
Top Campgrounds With Pickleball Courts
1. Bear Lake Venture Park – Garden City, UT
Enjoy waterfront camping while spending hours outside enjoying outdoor sports here. You’ll have pickleball, basketball, and horseshoes to choose from, as well as a host of non-sports amenities and activities.
If you want to slow things down a bit, enjoy the nearby Limber Pine Nature Trail for some hiking or spend an afternoon among the animals at the Farmer Blake’s Petting Zoo (located on-site). With back-in and pull-through sites, you can bring your rig in tow or set up camp at one of the simpler tent sites instead.
Nearest Airport: Salt Lake City International Airport, Idaho Falls Regional Airport
Nearby Attractions: Bear Lake State Park, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Canyon Entrance Park
Unique Amenity: Playground
2. Camp Fimfo, Texas Hill Country – New Braunfels, TX
If there’s one place in the country that just sounds like it has a pickleball court, it’s Camp Fimfo. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but the name really just seems to fit pickleball paradise.
Even if your journey isn’t centered around the sport, you’ll love this award-winning campground. Camp Fimfo took third in Top Campgrounds for Families and second in Top Campground Design. You’ll find few places better for this family-friendly sport than this family-centric campground.
When you’re ready to relax, there’s a swim-up bar, outdoor theater, or you can spend some time the relaxing by the Guadalupe River. If you aren’t heading there in your camper, you’ll love any of the cabins available for rent.
Nearest Airport: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, San Antonio International Airport
Nearby Attractions: Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country, Wimberley Zipline Adventures, Natural Bridge Caverns
Unique Amenity: Mini Golf
3. Sun Outdoors Rocky Mountains – Granby, CO
When it comes to campgrounds with pickleball courts, this might be the best spot on this list in terms of all-encompassing experience. Of course, you’ve got the requisite pickleball court. Of all the campgrounds with pickleball, this is arguably the best combination of pickleball availability and gorgeous backdrop. With the Rockies in full view, all your outdoor activities will be breathtaking (both literally and figuratively at nearly 8,000 feet of elevation).
This location is Campspot’s second-place finisher for Top Campgrounds with Views and fourth in Top Campgrounds for First-Timers. If you love to camp or want to get into it, but your family isn’t as on board, this spot is an easy sell with beautiful views and a full suite of resort-level amenities, including an arcade and community center.
Nearest Airport: Northern Colorado Regional Airport, Denver International Airport
Nearby Attractions: Moffat Railroad Museum, Rocky Mountain National Park, Windy Gap Wildlife Viewing Area
Unique Amenity: Outdoor Theater
4. Leaf Verde RV Resort – Buckeye, AZ
Fun fact: pickleball really came into its own after being introduced in 2001 at the Arizona Senior Olympics. While pickleball is especially popular in places like Arizona or Florida with high numbers of retirees, a trip to Leaf Verde can get campers of all ages in on the fun!
Hop out of your camper to enjoy a picturesque desert sunrise before heading out for a day filled with activities. With plenty of structured amenities, including a recreation hall, club room, and pool, you’ll never be short on activities to enjoy. After a game of pickleball, you’ll still have plenty of things to do with the family, like golf, horseshoes, or shuffleboard.
Nearest Airport: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport
Nearby Attractions: Estrella Star Tower, Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, & Safari Park, Skyline Regional Park
Unique Amenity: Arcade
5. Tampa East RV Resort – Dover, FL
In Florida, you might think all campgrounds are campgrounds with pickleball. Not just yet! But probably soon, with the rate of its popularity. With proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and manicured grounds, relaxation is more than just a mission here—it’s a state of mind. You’ll be close to Tampa and all the allure of the larger city but still far enough to lose track of time when on the pickleball court.
Want to venture out in search of white sandy beaches? In less than an hour, you can be at the Gulf with your toes in the sand and all the Jimmy Buffet greatest hits you can handle. If you don’t want to drive to get to the water, enjoy a dip in the on-site pool or hot tub after spending some time making friends in the recreation halls.
Nearest Airport: Tampa International Airport, St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport
Nearby Attractions: Croc Encounters, Eureka Springs Park, Stanleyville Theater
Unique Amenity: Hot Tub/Sauna
Campgrounds with pickleball courts are only going to be growing in popularity as pickleball takes the country by storm. Get your paddles and your practice in, then head to any of these five locations for your next trip!
Joe Coleman is a freelance travel and outdoor writer based in East Texas. His love for the outdoors started when living near Olympic National Park and has stayed with him ever since. Taking a respite from social media, you can reach him exclusively at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit in order of appearance: Camp Fimfo, Texas Hill Country; Bear Lake Venture Park; Camp Fimfo, Texas Hill Country; Sun Outdoors Rocky Mountains; Leaf Verde RV Resort; Tampa East RV Resort