There are two type of RVers in this world. Those that stay at RV parks (“campgrounds”) and those that don’t. The vast majority fall into the prior of the two. There are pros and cons to each and there’s definitely a little gray area, because every park is a different.
What to Expect
Your overall experience is going to be determined by a number of things that vary between RV parks. The camp hosts (the people in charge), your neighbors, the rules, the amenities, and the physical make-up of the park all play a huge part. So, let’s start from the top:
Most RV parks have “hosts”. These are fellow campers that get free or reduced campground fees to keep an eye on things. Sometimes they’re the ones that take your money and check you in. Other times, they just sell firewood. Their responsibilities varies wildly, but they’re generally the ones you want to make friends with. They have a strong interest in keeping ‘their’ park just how they like it, so, if you get one that has similar values to you, you’re usually in good shape. However, you can also find yourself with the guy that got picked on in high school and still isn’t over it. Most places will have Google reviews that give you an idea of what you can expect.
Every park has different expectations of guests. Sometimes, you’ll roll in and it’ll be nothing but $250k+ motorhomes and other times it’ll be beat-to-shit rigs with engine blocks sitting next to the picnic table. You don’t usually get a whole lot of space between you and them so having same-minded neighbors can make or break the experience. Some RV parks have age restrictions that prevent anyone with an RV older than X years (often 10) from staying. While not a particularly accurate measuring stick, it is something you can inquire about that’ll give you an idea of what to expect.
As eluded to above, different parks have different rules. Things to keep an eye out for are:
- Quiet time hours
- Dogs. Are they allowed? Breed restrictions? Weight limits?
- Check-in and Check-out times
- RV age limits
- Type of RV
There are three main amenities that every RV park may or may not offer.
- Electricity (aka “shore power”). This is the one that just about all of them will offer. There are three standard options:
- 50 amp – This will accommodate any rig and is geared toward the newer RVs with two AC units. Typically, if they offer 50 amp service they’ll also have a 30 amp outlet to accommodate older rigs.
- 30 amp – This is the most common option and is usually good for most RVs. However, if you want to run both AC units, you typically need a 50 amp service. Also, if you have a 50 amp RV, you’ll need an adapter that goes between your 50 amp plug and the shore power box
- 20 amp – These are less common and will basically support pop up campers. You can get adapters for your power cords and they’ll allow you to run most of your appliances except your AC.
- Water. If this is offered it means you’ll have a faucet at your site by running a hose to your camper.
- Sewer. This means they have a drain at your site that you can hook your dump hose up to so that you can dump your tanks right there at your site. If a campground doesn’t have this, they’ll almost always have a dump station you can hit on the way out of the campground. Dump stations are particularly common at state campgrounds.
The Park Itself
This is where things can get really interesting. Some parks are literally just parking lots with hook ups at each spot. Others, are big grassy fields with tons of space between each site. Always check that they have spots that support an RV that is as long as yours before booking.