Many RVers like me prefer wide open spaces and boondocking over full-hookups and paved parking spaces. But in a pandemic, guess where most of us headed? You guessed it, RV parks. And when we arrived, one thing was clear: coronavirus has changed RV park life, at least somewhat, depending on where you landed. This is what living in RV parks looks like right now, according to RVers from coast-to-coast.
I love dry camping on public lands, but I don’t mind heading to RV parks when the weather is too hot or too cold. Or when a pandemic strikes. After COVID-19 arrived in the U.S., the logic of sheltering in place at a commercial campground could not be argued. After all, even the most hearty boondockers must vacate their campsite occasionally for dump runs and provisions. It’s a relatively simple boondocking chore, but in a time of Coronavirus, repeated exposure to public facilities can be deadly.
When friends of ours generously offered a parking spot with full-hookups, we jumped at the chance. But most full-time RVers haven’t been as fortunate. For nomads around the country, full hookups are saving lives. Since many municipalities chose to keep RV parks open, these essential businesses really are the best option to stay safe and ride out the health crisis of the century.
Lately I’ve been thinking about how Coronavirus changed RV park life, so I turned to the helpful Xscapers community, a branch of the Escapees RV Club. What I specifically wanted to know was: what does it look like inside the parks? Are the guests handling COVID-19 hygiene recommendations any better than non-RVers? Close to 100 people responded with fascinating stories about RVing during COVID-19.
The resounding answer is yes. Most people report that RV park managers around the country acted quickly with Coronavirus precautions. The biggest raves came from Jason Epperson at Verde Ranch RV Resort in Arizona. “This park has been fabulous about keeping everyone safe. All their employees are working out of separate park models. The office/store are closed. They do check-ins via phone and email. They will deliver anything you want to purchase to your site. The laundry facilities are open, but only two people at a time are allowed in, and they have shut off several machines so people stay separated. They have hand sanitizer stations at the door. Much of AZ isn’t really taking this seriously, but I’m glad this campground is.”
Jennie Enloe also reports total satisfaction with park management at her location in South Texas. “Our park has been outstanding from clear communications, immaculate sanitation procedures and more. With a clear plan we were even able to exercise daily on beach. I believe every resident who was able to SIP was so grateful for this opportunity that they were eager to follow the rules and work with the park. I am happy to report that as of today 4/24 our community has not had a single case because of the outstanding work done on all sides. Huge thank you to the Judge, County Park officials and employees for protecting us all through this crisis.”
Are RV park renters wearing masks?
“The people in the RV park are not wearing masks,,” says Colleen Martel. From her RV park near Prescott, Arizona, she’s observed minimal compliance with Coronavirus precautions. “I would say only 25% of the people are wearing masks and practicing social distancing.”
Out west in California, Evelyn Bayer reports that most people are wearing masks. “I’m in San Diego and a lot of people in the campground wear masks, but we don’t really observe the 6ft rule.” And nearby at Newport Dunes RV Park, BarBara Crawford reports that most long-term residents are taking hygiene precautions seriously, but the short-term weekend visitors are not. “There are still weekend warrior types who come with big groups, play volleyball, corn hole and don’t wear masks.”
Down South, Rachel Houghton reported from Escapees’ Rainbow’s End RV Park in Livingston Texas, to say that “1 in 10 is wearing a mask outside when walking.” But she adds that her experience might be misleading. “We tend to go for a walk when there are few people outside, and I don’t people watch while I’m working inside the RV.”
North of Livingston near Dallas, Trisa Humphreys says that although everyone is respecting physical distancing recommendations, not everyone is masked while doing it. “Some wear masks while walking around. Not all.”
RVers are a friendly bunch and when it comes to social gatherings, not even a pandemic can put a dent in the fun. Barbecues and happy hours are still happening, but in a creative way that may or may not respect Coronavirus precautions depending on who you ask.
From his members-only RV park in Alabama, Rob Bibber describes a slightly altered social scene. “We are still having friends over for campfire and music but each couple sits at least 6 ft away from everyone else,” he says. “Pool, playground, and all non-essential buildings are closed. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t still be social just have to keep your distance (which is FINE with me!).”
Out in Florida, Randy Lagman says that “When most people have gatherings, it’s usually a small number of people and there’s usually 6-8 feet or more between the chairs.”
Does physical distancing and RV park living go together?
And from her RV park near Las Vegas, Anastacia Beaverhausen does not like what she is seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic. “People are having get togethers, bonfires, and bbqs in both public spaces as well as in their own spots.”
Out in Texas, Trisa Humphreys reported a similar scene. “Some are doing the BBQs but their chairs do seem further apart. But not all are spaced apart. It’s a mix of both.”
Meanwhile, members of the Escapees Jojoba Hills Co-Op Park in Southern California appear to have mastered the art of pandemic living after coronavirus changed RV park life. Co-Op member Paul Goldberg described one of the most creative RV happy hours yet. “We gather by Zoom. We had a Quarantine Blues Dance last week. Our DJ (a member) and I put up a Zoom Meeting with an hour of Singles from the 50’s 60’s and 70’s great images of people dancing in there rigs or out on their patios all keeping separated.”
RVer Camaraderie is as Contagious as Ever
One of the nicest reports about RV park life during Coronavirus came from another Jojoba Hills member, Georgia Georgia Dale Griffiths. “Everyone is so supportive of each other,” she says, and lists examples:
One neighbor goes to the restaurant/store across the street to put in our orders from their food suppliers. The next day, he picks it up and delivers it to us.
We have block captains who check on residents who are at risk.
We have folks who will shop for you in town.
One group made about 1,000 masks and donated them to neighbors and workers.
We have artists who create art in the street with chalk to cheer us.
If you need an ingredient immediately, just put the word out on our chat page and a neighbor will come by with needed item.
There is someone in the park who leaves chocolate on your doorstep to brighten your day.
I could go on and on,
I am selling my fifthwheel and sunroom so I can travel full time again. I am SO glad it did not sell yet. I have to believe this is the best place to be.”
This is an era when our health depends on our ability to physically distance ourselves from anyone outside our inner circle. But not even Coronavirus changed RV park life enough to make it unrecognizable. No matter where you are staying right now, the camaraderie of RVers is as contagious as ever.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.