For years I have shared the benefits of Google Earth to RVers, as the digital images (satellite, street view, and user posted photos) can let you know what to expect prior to traveling to an area.
Some of the useful advantages include:
- Determining the true length of the campsites in advance
- Figuring out which car washes are drive-through self-service that can accommodate your RV and automated ones that can’t
- Finding out if the campground you plan to stay at is located next to railroad tracks, a major highway or airport
- Locating places to visit along your route
- To determine the clearance of parking garages and bridges
- Most importantly, for me, it can be used for locating and navigating to boondocking campsites during my travels.
However, while the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true, things can and do happen after a photo is taken.
In the most recent case, my wife and I were traveling through Oregon and planned to boondock for the night in the Crooked River National Grasslands.
Using Google Earth, I located a campsite along Road 57 just a few hundred yards off our route on Highway 26. After exiting the highway and coming over a rise near our intended campsite, we were greeted by scorched earth.
It seems a wildfire had ravaged the area very recently. Juniper trees were either charcoal sticks or singed brown, the grass was turned to ash and the ground was a layer of very dry dust as any moisture in the ground had been vaporized by the fire. In other words, it wasn’t a very attractive place to camp.
Fortunately, it was just an overnight stop and still promised to be much quieter than camp Walmart.
After a little scouting, I even found an area the fire had jumped over leaving it (other than a couple small spot fires) unscathed. I later checked the satellite dates of the area on Google Earth finding the photos were taken on April 19th, 2015 (more than two years before we camped there) reminding me that photos online are never a guarantee.
Always search for the most up-to-date news and weather in areas you’re visiting. Another great tool to plan your trips and find attractions & campgrounds along the way is RV Trip Wizard.
Visualizing your campsite looking a certain way and being surprised otherwise… just another adventure in RVing!