RV Parks are Great (until they aren’t)
Experienced RVers know that not all RV parks are created equal. These ten truths about RV parks can prepare you for the unexpected and sometimes disappointing surprises of finding a place to park your home on wheels.
One of the best things about RV living is that it’s always an adventure when you turn the key and head onto the open road. But sometimes this lifestyle throws curveballs at you, especially when it comes to the range of quality among privately-owned parks. But you can still make the most of the adventurous life.
Prepare for these hard truths about RV parks
1. Sewer hookups aren’t always easy to access.
Sometimes you have to wonder what RV park architects are thinking when they decide on utility hookup locations. Many RV park sewer drain locations are in awkward locations on a campsite.
In a perfect world, RV park sewer drain locations should accommodate all size rigs, and multiple sewer drain locations would be a dream come true. Carrying an extra sewer hose comes in handy when your RV dump valve is too far from the sewer hookup.
2. You might get to know the neighbors really well.
Everyone has different ideas about the ideal RV campsite size. Many privately-owned RV parks maximize every square foot of space by packing it full of campsites. This can make for an uncomfortable time when you walk out your front door and right into your neighbor’s steps. In our pandemic era when social distancing could save your life, it’s wise to carefully check campground reviews and customer experiences before deciding on a place to stay.
3. Size matters when it comes to RV park sites.
Too many RV park layouts assume that one-size fits all when it comes to the parking apron. Many RV parks unknowingly squeeze big rigs into small sites, making parking more stressful than necessary. A 40-foot Class A owner will see RV park layouts very differently than a Tab Trailer owner, so if you’re at all uncertain about how an RV park can accommodate your RV, plan your RV trip ahead of time.
4. What smoking section?
If you don’t smoke, odds are pretty good that you don’t want to camp next to chainsmoker Charlie. But non-smoking RV parks are rare. I also don’t know of a single RVer who has ever been asked “Smoking or non-smoking?” when checking into a park. If you are trapped in the path of secondhand smoke from your neighbor, don’t get mad. Just ask if you can move sites.
5. Shady campsites are nice, but big trees can spell disaster.
In the heat of summer, a giant shade tree hanging over your RV can help keep it cool. Sometimes, however, those big leafy trees cause rooftop RV damage when tree trimming is delayed. Pay careful attention when pulling into a shady campground. If the trees look too low for safe maneuvering, scout your assigned site before pulling in. You just might avoid a collision with your air conditioning unit.
6. Pretty RV park landscaping comes at a cost.
Anyone who goes RVing during spring or fall knows about the constant din of lawnmowers and leaf blowers at RV parks. Nice, lush lawns and debris-free campsites are terrific, but during certain seasons you’ll pay dearly for those niceties with constant racket.
Ideally, RV parks would keep noise to a minimum during scheduled and predictable hours, but in 14 years of RVing we’ve never seen that happen. A good set of noise-cancelling headphones goes a long way in these parks.
7. RV backup skills come in handy.
Take time to get comfortable with backing up your RV in open, safe locations. You’ll be glad you did on the day you arrive at an RV park with giant decorative boulders and lamp posts placed in-between campsites. Apparently many RV park architects have never tried backing into a campsite with these obtrusive obstacles.
8. Dogs are part of the family.
Dog parents like me are grateful for campgrounds that welcome canine co-pilots. Unfortunately, some dog parents are less responsible about dog parenting than others, which causes animosity among dog-free guests.
Many RV parks try to promote goodwill between the two factions by enforcing leash laws, providing plenty of potty bags and waste receptacles, and not tolerating guests who leave their dogs home alone all day. But some don’t seem to care. If you are averse to having a canine neighbor, research pet policies of your potential RV park.
9. Amenities exaggeration happens.
Have you ever checked into an RV park and discovered the advertised “laundromat” was nothing more than one washer and one dryer? Or that the park WiFi didn’t work? These are just a couple of common examples of amenities exaggeration encountered by RVers. If the availability of a certain amenity is a deal-breaker for you, call the park for specifics before reserving a site.
10. Prepare for the realities of living in RV parks and campgrounds
The best times start with a laid-back attitude.
Overall, the RV lifestyle is fun and full of great surprises. You can make the best of the bad ones by rolling with the punches and keeping a laid-back attitude when you travel. The most common hard truths about RV parks often lead to some of the best campfire stories!
Find Your Best RV Park Locations
Looking for great RV parks without hassles? RV LIFE Trip Wizard helps you pinpoint the best RV parks on your travels across North America. Get RV-safe driving directions to your ideal getaway.
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.
This article hits the spot right on. I have camped in Whitehorse, Yukon, you need a shoe horn to get into this these sights. Big rigs slide outs sticking into your siite. Homer, Alaska you have to back in on the beach front with your trailer and run your sewer hose under the trailer to the entrance of your trailer, Dawson City, Yukon, you are back to back and sites narrow. Living Forest, Naniamo when you book ahead telling them the size of your trailer they shoe horn you in that does not fit or try too this is even when you book well in advance for a spot and the dates. Tofino, BC another great shoe horn experience, you book in advance even with tents any little spot they want to cram you in.
You’re right these architects don’t see that or never ever RV’d that never see the issue. It’s like saying one shoe size fits all. Roadways are narrow and people get mad because you are taking up the road when trying to park or trying to drive by you in the opposite direction and you have no place to move over someone has to back up and it sure is not me with a trailer.Sure reviews are good and you see maps on these campsites but they can be deceiving until you get there. Yes take it like a grain of salt, be patient. At Living Forest they gave us a spot where we could not get into because of a Motorhome, a utility shed and cars parked along the other side of our site, so we got another site, but when we got there someone else was in it they refused to move. They gave us another sight but after one night we had to move, my spouse exploded and went to the manager, told them we booked well in advance for these dates and we are not moving. Plus driving around in circles trying to find our site, that did it. So when booking a site be VERY CLEAR of the size of your unit whether it is back in or drive through and talk to the manager if you have an issue with your sites. Most sites are accommodating but you will run into a snafu somewhere down the line, even if you have to walk it to see where you are at it is best and be PATIENT no matter what.
Steven Osburn says
Regarding Tip number 8 “Dogs are part of the family”, I will add, “So are cats!”. Leash rules are there for a reason. I walk our cat on a leash, and MORE THAN ONCE has my cat climbed me like a tree when an unleashed dog bolts from a campsite to come check out Heidi. EVERY time I hear from the owner that “Fido has never done that before…”, but my response is that there are leash rules in place for a reason!
Remember, you are there with others, and unexpected things happen like a cat will walk by on a leash.
Let me tell you, when a cat with claws tries to climb the owner to flee from a dog – it is NOT pleasant for the cat owner, and I have every much as right to walk my cat as you have to walk your dog or have your dog in your campsite, so PLEASE leash your dog in your campsites!
Katherine Tucker says
Backing up tip:
As a solo RVer, backing with tow dolly and without guide was especially challenging- especially when pulling into a tight or shaded spot or in poor light. I took a training tip from my trucker sister and purchased several sets of bright orange field cones from Walmart. Before backing I would get out, inspect the site, and place cones along the sides with 2 marking where to stop. Made my life so much easier!!
Excellent advice! Thanks
Lou Schneider says
When backing a trailer, plot a course for the trailer’s wheels not the rear end. The long rear overhang will make the tail end of the trailer move back and forth. Drive the wheels to where you want them to end up.
S Lowery says
#9 for sure, but more…you can call the park all you want to check on wifi, but many times (most) they will not tell you the truth…and you will hear the “he’s working on it” or how it “just worked yesterday.” Trying to work from the road using phone and no wifi is exercise in total frustration.
For those who enjoy the clothing optional RV park life style. Some are great and will meet many nice like minded people, I had a not so positive experience at one of the local FL Clothing optional RV parks, after three years paying rent on time it was time to go. My RV aging trusty Noncold ice maker decided to leak luckley my insurance covered the damages and paid for my renting a car, small camper at the site while the rig was in the shop. Once the RV office found out my insurance was covering repairs, my storage and rentals. The Resort put me in a roach infested 1970’s trailor should of been decommissioned yrs ago. pre paid my rental & est. electric prior to moving into the trailor, At higher rate than normal and paid electric a 2nd time for the months electric at check out, they figured since its covered by my RV insurance I’d be reimbursed. Word to the wise becareful when choosing RV resorts especially if their RV resort currently up for sale. An expensive stay!
WiFi and cable TV connections are a joke at most parks. So are quiet hours.
Mary Jacobs says
Hi Rene, I’m a freelance writer for the Dallas Morning News working on full-time nomads who live in RVs or Airbnbs full time. I’d love to talk by phone if you’d be willing. Would you email me at email@example.com. I’ve included a link to my work so you can see I’m legit.
Mike Huffstutler says
All said here is true. We have had a very few problems. This is our third year as Snow Birds in Florida. Twice at two different parks we were promised a site months in advance .When we arrived we were not given the site we were promised.
One RV park we have stayed at several times was great never any problems. Everything worked as advertised. Sadly we are able to stay at other parks for a month for the price of a week there. An experienced Florida RV’s have by now figured I am speaking of Fort Wilderness Campground at Walt Disney World.
“This can make for an uncomfortable time when you walk out your front door and right into your neighbor’s steps.”
Only if your neighbor has a door on the left side of their rig, or the sites are situated in such a manner the the RV’s are pulled into them indifferent directions.
Should have said “walk out the front door into the neighbors slide out or hookups.
Darrell Kelly says
What gets me is the “exclusive” high end only parks. I actually ran into a park that would not to any RV over three years old. If they only want the newest, biggest, finest they should at least say so in their advertising.
David Caswell says
#1. Distance from the RV is easily fixed, but when the sewer connection is 6-8″ above the ground and is located 20′ away from the RV it’s time to change sites/parks. This is a 15 minute fix with a hacksaw & new $10 Drain Clean-out adapter, yet too many RV parks refuse to correct it. I’ve seen this just too many times.
Rick Lewis says
I agree with Mr. Huffstutler about Disney’s Fort Wilderness. As with everything at Disney, your only choice is to “have it their way”.
Also, as to dogs, one of my biggest peeves is the many campers simply refuse to pick up their pets droppings or reserve them to the dog parks. How many times I have stepped into my coach only to find out I have stepped in it only after I have spread it all over the floor and carpeting. What fun it is cleaning that up!
Dennis Mitchell says
Shouldn`t a level spot be one non-negotiable item? I will not be fooled again by We`ll give you the best spot & when you get there door doesn`t line up with the deck & your bottom step is a doozy. Been on cement pads that were so out of level either the front or back tires are off the ground. Love the rv park across the river from Quebec City In every site the sewer hookup is under the neighbors picnic table.
Bill Olsen says
Another issue with trees is that most (all?) parks do not accept liability for damage to your RV from a tree or branches falling. It’s their pretty tree until it falls on your rig and then it’s your problem.
Mike Materazzi says
You two are great. Wonderful info for a couple just about to embark on this new lifestyle.