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What Is a Fully Automated RV Park?

Automated RV parks are sprouting up nationwide, another sign that the camping industry is booming.

While it may seem futuristic, these businesses are revolutionizing check-in and check-out processes. There was initially some skepticism about their viability, but they’re becoming valuable additions to the nomad community.

So what makes it fully automated? Today will look at one vision of the future of camping in the United States.

Let’s explore!

What Is a Fully Automated RV Park?

A fully automated RV park is a campground that operates without on-site staff. They use technology, such as self-check-in kiosks, payment systems, and remote monitoring and management systems.

Guests can make a reservaion using a website or app. They then use a kiosk or other device to check in, select their camp, and make payments upon arrival. The grounds may also have computer systems for controlling power, water, and sewage. These systems are often managed remotely.

Fully automated RV parks are becoming increasingly popular due to their convenience and cost savings. However, they’re not perfect. Visitors may need to contact customer service if they encounter issues. As we all likely know, technology is far from perfect, and users can experience problems from occasionaly.

Automated RV park
Automatic RV parks may be the future of RV camping.

The Benefits of Fully Automated RV Parks

Several benefits make these spots worth considering. For example, they’re much more convenient for the owners and the guests. You can jump on the website to reserve a spot and punch in a code to gain access it when you arrive. 

These technologies allow campground owners to save on overhead by minimizing workers. They don’t need to hire multiple employees to check guests in and out or prepare sites. An individual working remotely can monitor activities and assist visitors as needed. Amenities at each location can be automatically turned on and off as people check in and out.

Many people love the increased safety features that the facilities provide. Having a gate helps prevent intruders from wandering into the campgrounds. In addition, there are often plenty of security lighting and cameras to help keep an eye on things. You can have an assurance that you and your crew are safe while you get some rest.

Since these are new spots, they typically offer everything RVers need to enjoy their rigs fully. You can usually find 30/50-amp power and water and sewer connections. Many have cable TV and WiFi connectivity if you want to stay online while on the road. There’s just about nothing more you could ask for in a campground!

Pro Tip: From automated RV parks to KOAs, there are lots of different types of campgrounds to stay at. Uncover Which Type of Campground is Best for You?

The Disadvantages of Fully Automated RV Parks

Unfortunately, while there are plenty of benefits to choosing these camping options, there are some disadvantages. We all know that things don’t always go according to plan and that technology can disappoint us. 

You’d likely walk down to the host’s site or find the manager at a typical campground. However, an employee will probably not be on location at a fully automated RV park. You’ll have to call a customer service phone number and cross your fingers that they can help you remotely.

Many of these spots sit conveniently off highways, making them easy to access. While this may seem like a benefit, it’s also a disadvantage. You may hear traffic all night, so it can be challenging for light sleepers to get quality rest. Drive past these sites if you’re a light sleeper.

These sites are relatively new and can be expensive. This is especially true as owners try to recoup the massive amount of money they’ve sunk into them. Some of them cost as much as $39. Considering many RVers are content with staying overnight in a Walmart parking lot for free, the fees can seem excessive in most circumstances.

RV park by a lake
While automated RV parks are becoming more popular, there are some downsides to them taking over.

What Are the Alternatives to Fully Automated RV Parks?

While fully automated RV parks are trending, they’re not the only option. There are thousands of spots to stay across the country. You can find traditional campgrounds that accommodate rigs of all sizes. Depending on the location, these spots can vary in price and accessibility. Resorts will be the most expensive, and state or county sites are generally more budget-friendly.

If you’re looking for a spot for a quick overnight stop, lot docking is another great option. This is where you rest in the parking lot of a business or other establishment. However, this can be tricky as some locations have strict regulations about sleeping in a vehicle. Finding a place to stay can be difficult, especially in urban areas.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the many boondocking sites on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the United States Forest Service (USFS) combine to manage most of these lands. You’ll need to be self-sufficient for these spots. So make sure you plan for water, power, and trash. Many of these spots allow guests to stay free for as much as five to 14 days. A beautiful view out your camper window for free? What’s not to love about that?

Where Is the World’s First Fully Automated RV Park?

Jim Turntine is an RVer and entrepreneur. He devised the plan after he and his wife experienced the stress and frustrations of finding a safe place to stay for the night. He aimed to eliminate the stress for other nomads by creating an affordable, secure, and fully automated campground.

In 2018, Turntine decided to take a leap of faith and give it a try. He started moving dirt and constructing the first fully automated RV park. It sits in West Sullivan, Missouri, at mile marker 223.4, right off Interstate 44. It’s approximately 45 to 50 minutes southwest of the booming city of St. Louis.

Don’t come expecting a traditional experience. Computers control many aspects of the campground. An off-site monitoring station constantly keeps an eye on the situation. Spots are extra long, and it never closes. It features a pet walk, increased lighting, and security cameras throughout the grounds.

Turntine has patented and trademarked his invention as the country’s first “coin-op” RV park. He plans to work with investors to grow the chain and open franchise locations nationwide. Keep an eye out as they grow their business. You may unexpectedly come across one during your adventures.

Pro Tip: Download these 7 Best iPhone Apps for Camping to make finding a campsite for the night quick and easy.

Should You Go Full Auto?

We love supporting entrepreneurs and those who think differently by innovating. Fully automated parks are a fantastic concept and have their place in the RV community. Are they going to replace traditional campgrounds? Likely not. 

While they’re excellent options for those looking for a quick spot to stay for the night and rely on specific amenities, they’re not for everybody. However, if the price is right, we suggest trying them if you come across one while traveling.

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