What is a comfort station at a campground? ( video and photos )

Long experienced park planner Mr. Paul V. Brown once said, “Toilets are the most important structures built in a natural park.” I’ve done some hard core camping in my life, where I’ve had to dig holes and, you know, relieve myself in the wild–but I still find I prefer a campsite with a comfort station. One can only pee in the woods for so long.

So what is a comfort station?

A “comfort station” at a campground is a facility with toilets and sometimes a shower area. Comfort stations will sometimes even include extras like a washing machine and dryer. Although rare, a comfort station may even provide soap dispensers. Comfort stations were added to campground areas so that people could easily bath or relieve themselves without doing so in the areas surrounding the campgrounds.

Most campgrounds are equipped with comfort stations but there are some campgrounds that are not, and you’ll want to be informed before you embark on a camping trip. In this article, I will discuss different levels of comfort stations, as well as the pros and cons of these options.

A Comfort Station That’s Similar to a Public Bathroom

You might encounter a comfort station that basically functions as a public bathroom. There will be multiple stalls in one comfort station but the privacy is still provided, as well as soap, water, and either towels or hand-dryers.

The public comfort stations are usually sprinkled in central locations in campsites, so traffic doesn’t get overwhelming. In most cases, you can expect to share this type of comfort station with only a few other campers, because there will be many throughout the site.

Depending on the campsite, these comfort stations may have electrical light, or they may appear similarly to privies–small windows allowing natural light.  These comfort stations will usually have unlocked front doors, though the stalls will lock.

Private Comfort stations

This option is similar to the public bathroom style, except there should only be one toilet per comfort station, and the station will have a lockable front door. There will still be a sink, soap, and towels or hand-dryers, but you have the added privacy of being completely alone.

Depending on the area, these bathrooms are most often found on trails in natural parks. You will also most often find separated buildings subject to different genders for this model, as a private female bathroom might call for different amenities than a private male bathroom.

The issue of lighting is similar as well–you should be prepared with a flashlight always when camping, but depending on the campsite, this type of comfort station may or may not have electrical lighting. Though in most cases, electrical lighting is usually installed.

Comfort Plus Station

Some campgrounds provide bathrooms that include washing stations.

Inside the comfort station, the areas will be semi-separated–bathrooms on one side and showers with curtains or doors on the other. Sinks, soap, and hand towels or hand-dryers will be available as well. In most cases, you’ll want to bring your own towels and bath supplies.

These stations are electrically lit and ventilated, so the shower steam shouldn’t fog up the mirrors. The water temperature is usually not affected by toilets and showers being next to each other, but again, these smaller details will always depend on the campground.

Location Differences

Campgrounds all over the United States of America will have different comfort station elements. The different elements also depend on the type of campsite.

For instance, national parks will most often have either public bathroom style comfort stations, or private comfort stations along trails, and regular bathrooms inside their visitor centers.

Campgrounds in the middle of national forests or parks are a toss up, which is why you’ll want to research the specific area you plan to visit.

If you are hiking a longer trail, like the Pacific Coast Trail or the Appalachian Trail, you can expect to stop in cities and use what you find there, go in the wild, or else stop at setup comfort stations along the way. You will usually know where these stations are located from trail maps.

On the Appalachian Trail, there are comfort stations that go so far they could almost be renamed “comfort houses.” These stations have bathrooms and sometimes lodging. Of course, you’d still be expected to bring your own sleeping pad and sleeping bag, but bunk beds or cots are available in this type of station.

Just remember that each campground works differently. It would be wise to do your research before you pick which place you’d like to visit, especially if you’re concerned about using a privy-style comfort house.

Most campgrounds are equipped with comfort stations but there are some campgrounds that are not, and you’ll want to be informed before you embark on a camping trip. In this article, I will discuss different levels of comfort stations, as well as the pros and cons of these options.

Tip- Don’t want to shower in a public shower? Read this article- Portable Solar Camping Shower ( How it works, Cost, Temp and Tips )

Info on Privies

Privies are considered the comfort station of their day and although rare, you may still come across one at some parks.

Usually, this type of comfort station doesn’t come with a sink, but does sometimes come with hand sanitizer, but it’s always good to be prepared with your own sanitizer or wipes just in case.

When I’ve encountered a privy, there is usually little to no light, so you’ll want to bring a flashlight at night. Sometimes, there are windows at the top of the building–high enough that people can’t look in–and so there is enough visibility.

In any case, there will always be some sort of ventilation in any comfort station, so some light can come through the vent. There is no visibility from the outside to the inside of the station. Depending on the campground, privies can either be separated by gender, or simply any gender under one roof. In any case, it should provide a lockable front door.

Privies may not be the fanciest way to relieve yourself, but they offer enough familiarity and privacy that it almost feels comfortable–at least more comfortable than digging your own hole in the ground.

Pros and Cons of privies stations and comfort stations

The major overall pro is that privies are becoming far less ubiquitous at common campgrounds. It turns out the waste was becoming hard to manage, so new environmental regulations made it so privies are gradually being replaced throughout the country.

So, you will most likely see public bathroom style comfort houses on your camping trips. But just in case, I thought I’d list some pros of privies, so you can look on the bright side of your camping situation if you end up somewhere with only privies.

Pros of privies

  • More authentic camping experience
  • Quick and easy turnaround, because you most often use your own hand sanitizer and can leave the building quickly
  • It’s a step up from digging your own hole
  • You don’t have to worry about potentially clogging the toilet

Cons of privies

  • Not as comfortable as a different comfort station
  • Dark and often a bit smelly
  • Potentially less sanitary if you forget to bring wipes or sanitizer
  • Depending on the campground and time of year, there could be a lack of supplies like toilet paper

It might seem obvious that the pros of comfort stations outweigh the cons, but listing them should help you decide what kind of experience you may be looking for.

Pros of comfort stations

  • More sanitary than privies
  • Often there is electricity
  • Flushable toilets leads to a better smelling area
  • Usually able to stock toilet paper better because of the built-in toilet paper holders you see in public bathrooms
  • More familiar
  • A bit of a relief–you don’t have to get down and dirty in the wild!

Cons of comfort stations

  • Again, maybe you wanted that more authentic camping experience, and this type of comfort station just doesn’t do it for you
  • Electric lighting can attract bugs
  • There is a potential for longer bathroom lines, as there is more reason to stay in the bathroom to use the sink, etc.

Thinking More About Campsite Location To A Comfort Station

Another thing to think about is whether or not you want to set up camp close to a comfort station.

On the one hand, it’s nice if you have to wake up in the middle of the night for a bathroom run. On the other hand, you might be disturbed at all hours of the night by other campers who need to use the bathroom.

A lot of your choice will be individualized; you have to make sure you’re making the right choice for you. And if you have a family, that’s something to think about as well. If you have small children, it might be worth the risk to camp closer to a comfort station simply for proximity.


Now that you know a little bit more about what a comfort station is, what different types are available in what different locations, and what the pros and cons are of each option, you should be able to make the right choice of camping destination for you.

To end on a personal note: once, on a camping trip with my family, my brother walked in to a privy, only to find it was already occupied. The man sitting on the toilet raised his hands defensively and said, “Easy…easy…”

My brother left the privy, of course. Remember to lock the door, everyone. And if there are no locks, get someone to stand guard.

Regardless of comfort station style, we all need that moment of privacy.

More articles you will want to read.

Portable Solar Camping Shower ( How it works, Cost, Temp and Tips )

Do I need a tarp under or over my tent? benefits and alternatives

Can You Use Heaters in Tents? Find out here

How to keep insects out of your tent.

Rickie Arms

Hi, I'm Rickie Arms, owner of Glampingorcamping.com. I am so invested in writing the best and most informative articles for you that I went out and bought a travel trailer just so I could write about it for you. I spend just about all of my off time both camping and glamping so I can share everything I have learned and will learn with you. I have spent my whole life camping and over the last 10 years, I have spent a large amount of time checking out glamping experiences with my wife and kids as well. Thank you for coming by and we hope to see you back here getting great information in the future. Rick Arms-

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