The two places you’ll spend the most time in your RV is on the road and parked - in a campground or an RV park. There aren’t many options when it comes to driving – you’re either taking highways and freeways to make good time or smaller roads when you’re in no rush and want to explore. When it comes to choosing an RV park, however, you have numerous options.
There are over 13,000 privately owned RV parks in the United States and more than 1,600 state parks. They vary by amenities, size, seclusion and popularity. Before setting out on your next voyage, follow these useful tips for finding the RV park that fits you and your vehicle.
RV Parks vs. Campgrounds
The terms “RV Park” and “campground” are used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences. An RV park may be referred to as a campground, but a real RV park caters only to those in actual RVs. A driver pulls into a site and can take advantage of facilities such as water and sewer connections, electricity and Wi-Fi. A campground not only allows RVs, but will also offer other camping options, such as tent sites and cabins. This type of campground is most often found in state and national parks, but can also be privately owned.
Because RV parks are only for those travelers towing and driving RVs, they often offer more in the way of luxuries and may cater to specific groups and interests. Parks cater to full or part-time RVers who tend to stay for longer periods of time. While nightly stays are always an option, many guests will stay from a week to several months. Campgrounds on the other hand, are usually busy on the weekends and empty weekdays except during summer.
Here are a few tips that will help you choose the right RV Park for your rig.
We live in an age where everything has a rating, from restaurants to barber shops, and before hitting the road, you should take advantage of this valuable information. If you’re not quite sure of your itinerary before heading out, find the best-reviewed RV parks in the general area of where you’ll be heading and use those as reference points. Websites like RV Park Reviews or RV Parking.com feature insight from recent travelers. When reading a review, separate true information from emotional rhetoric. Look for quality insight on the following:
- Length and width of the sites
- Ease or difficulty in maneuvering
- Ease of location
- Noise level
- Actual Site - Is it level? Are there quality hook-ups?
- Price for surrounding area - are there discounts available?
- Is it kid-friendly?
- Are there age restriction on RVs?
- Is the park on a hill or sloped?
- What condition is the park in?
- How is the Wi-fI?
Once you’ve found a handful of reputable parks, check out their websites. You’ll find everything you need to know, including amenities and reservation information. A good rule of thumb when researching RV parks online is to notice how well-maintained their online presence is. If they pay attention to their website, chances are they will pay attention to you when you arrive.
Some RV parks are right off the freeway while others are off the beaten path. Smaller towables and motorhomes can access secluded sites while bigger vehicles might have trouble with the turns or road conditions. Look at pictures of the park so you have a good idea of what to expect. If your RV is large or long, contact the park beforehand to make sure you won’t get stuck.
This may be an RV park’s biggest make-or-break category. The following services should be offered in an RV Park. If they aren’t, the price should reflect the lack of amenities.
Internet Access - A lot of heavy-duty RVers work remotely and need reliable Wi-Fi. Even if you want Internet access just to pass the time, make sure the park has it and find out whether or not they charge for it. If you need good internet, it’s best to bring your own. RV Park wi-fi is notoriously SLOW.
Sewer Hookup - You will eventually need to empty your sewage tank. Not every place offers this service, but being able to do it from your site is a huge convenience.
Laundry - Laundry really piles up when you are traveling, so an on-site laundromat is very important.
Mail Service - If you’re going to be out on the road for an extended period of time, you’ll need to be able to get mail. Your average RV park with short-term only sites probably won’t let your mail get sent to them, however, parks renting long-term sites may.
Long-Term Rental Options- If you're going to be staying in an RV park for the foreseeable future, make sure they offer sites by the month. Not all parks do this, so double check before you arrive.
Parks are inherently social, and many guests enjoy visiting with their neighbors. An RV park’s community atmosphere might be particularly important for both long-term and short-term visitors. You can get a good feel for a park’s community by the reviews past guests have left.
This article highlights only a few ways to find the perfect RV Park. Now, sit down and make a list of what is important to you and your travel partners to find a spot where you’ll want to stay. Curious? Don’t hesitate to call or email the owner of the park with questions. Also, be sure they’ll have a site open when you want to visit, and double check that the prices won’t go up. Most of all, find an RV park that you will like. No matter how long you plan to stay, this will be your home. Remember, when you RV, home is where you park it.