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5 Essential RV Park Lessons (That We Learned Quickly)

RV parks are often the default camping option for families vacationing in an RV. It’s an obvious choice. And there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with RV park camping.

However, keeping an open mind and understanding all your camping options as you plan your RV vacation will set you up for a better experience.

Today, we’re sharing five things I learned from camping at RV parks.

Let’s dive in!

#1 RV Parks Are Expensive

My wife and I became full-time RV travelers in 2015. Before hitting the road, we never had experience with RV camping.

I thought RV park rates would be cheap. Considering I was bringing my own home, it seemed like $20/night would be on the high end of what I considered a fair price.

This was an awful assumption.

RV parks are expensive. We’ve paid over $100/night to stay at some RV park campgrounds. This was the first lesson I learned from RV park camping.

#2 Space is Tight at Most RV Parks

The bottom line for RV parks is to make money. These are private businesses (most often small & local) that are trying to make a living.

RV spaces are pretty tight because of this.

The parks want to optimize cash flow. There are two ways to do this; add more RV sites and raise prices.

Unfortunately, it often feels RV parks use those two strategies together. This leads to tightly spaced, expensive RV campsites.

#3 We’re Not Always Welcome

Not all RV parks want our business. Here’s why:

Vintage RV: We traveled in a renovated 1979 Airstream. Many RV parks in America have a 10-year-rule. This rule prohibits RVs older than ten years from staying on their property.

We’re Too Young: In one of the few ways age-discrimination is legal in America, some RV parks only allow reservations from folks 55 and older. Florida and Arizona host the majority of these RV parks.

#4 RV Park Wifi is Notoriously Bad

I never count on the RV park wifi to conduct my online business (or streaming entertainment). We’ve been burned too many times by RV parks that claim to offer wifi, only to find out it’s virtually unusable.

There are exceptions, like Island Retreat RV Park in Gulf Shores (AL). 

However, in most cases, RV parks have notoriously lousy wifi.

This is why we travel with a cellular booster. It lets us control our internet destiny. 

#5 Some RV Parks Are Worth Every Cent

Despite the negative aspects of RV parks, some are worth every cent. Finding a great RV park will make your vacation stress-free and much more enjoyable.

Here are a few examples of RV parks we’ve come to love:

  1. Catherine’s Landing in Hot Springs, Arkansas
  2. Flying Flags RV Resort in Buellton, California
  3. Stella Mare RV Resort in Galveston, Texas
  4. Mountain Valley RV Resort in Heber City, Utah
  5. Sand Dunes Recreation in Hooper, Colorado

You Have Options Other Than RV Parks

Don’t think RV parks are your only option. There are quite a few places to find great RV campsites with hookups.

State Parks: These are some of the most beautiful and inexpensive RV camping options in the USA.

City & County Parks: Small towns across America host RV sites at city and country parks. These RV campsites are low-cost and have a central location.

Free Camping: If you haven’t heard of it before, free camping is a real thing. From Florida to California, 100s of free campsites exist. In fact, your tax dollars pay for them!

Discover the Best Free Camping Across the USA

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America (with complete privacy).

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, you’re contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers who love to score the best site! 

We’ll send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA (one per state). Access the list by submitting your email below:

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  1. AnnaMarie Goforth says:

    We started camp hosting November 2019 for the first time. When we got to our next commitment the virus hit. We were given the choice to stay. As full time RVers we had no where safe to go. It’s the best decision we ever made. Hosts receive a full hookup site plus other amenities that differ from park to park. Here at Cottonwood Canyon State Park in OR we have WiFi, washer and dryer at Ranger Station and a ice machine. We were scheduled to leave end of April. With the campground opening today we will resume our travels July 1. Getting mail and packages was a breeze. No cellular but a drive to the Mountain View pullout a short drive out of the canyon we had full service with Verizon. The Dalles on the Columbia River has a Safeway and a Fred Meyer about 45 minutes away. Across the river at Goldendale, WA they have a grocery store that is a little closer. In a nut shell we saved money, we were safe, gave back to a state government agency that had looked out for our best interest during the pandemic. Give some time get a lot of appreciation in return.

  2. Diana D Graham says:

    Great article with good points. And most of the time, RV parks are more convenient than other options. We do a lot of dry camping, either boondocking on public land or public parks. While that’s our preference, it’s really nice to have a FHU every once in a while.

  3. Susan B says:

    We have encountered RV park “snobs” in our initial forays into RV camping. These are folks who have paid for the season and have formed cliques over time. We were made to feel like party crashers when we showed up in our 2004 Gulfstream class C RV. The RVs around us were gorgeous state-of-the-art class As and 5th wheels that made us look (and feel) like a couple of hayseeds.
    Furthermore, nobody there was social distancing or wearing masks (which is state mandated here in NY), and Trump banners and flags were festooning a few of the nearby sites. Yikes!
    I learned a valuable lesson about the way I want to camp in this experience. Perhaps summertime isn’t the best season for us, and boondocking is the best way to go. I don’t want to be surrounded with other people who band together for the season, and I don’t want to be so close to others that I can hear their conversations from next door. My political leaning aside, I camp in order to get away from politics and the ways of the world. I don’t want to be reminded of it wherever I go!

  4. Lynn E. Jepson says:

    @Susan B, please leave politics out of comments. I did and do vote Republican, but that in no way affects how I interact with other campers. Generalizations are judgmental and often wrong. We don’t have a luxury RV and have run across what you have described though. It really can make for a lonely stay!

  5. EDDIE G TATE says:

    @Lynn E. Jepson, I understand your position, but Susan B.’s point is well taken. My wife and I (interracial couple) were literally circled at our campsite by a group of golf cart-driving, Trump-flag waving “patriots,” and it nearly made us leave. We’ve been to some parks that are clear in their messaging that “No political flags are allowed,” and that was more welcoming than almost anything else. Go camping, that’s all!

  6. Chris Abbot says:

    I don’t think I saw any reference to one of the camping choices that have saved my butt on several occasions… Fairgrounds… Most state/county fairgrounds have lots of FHU spaces and reasonable rates. They are usually pretty basic “parking lot” type accommodations but, if you’re in an area to do or see something nearby, that’s are all you really need. (Be sure to check that it’s not fair or racing season before “dropping in”.)

  7. Noah Nason III says:

    We are a 70+ couple with a 45-pound labradoodle in a 2019 Winnebago 29VE Class A. Over the last 4 years, we have traveled 52,000 miles and stayed in over 140 campgrounds (majority KOA.) We travel about 130 days a year. We have been to Alaska, Newfoundland, and I95/I94/I90/I81/I80/I70/I40/I5 from Virginia to the West Coast. Most of our travels have been in the Spring, late Summer, and the Fall. With the exception of national parks and four really popular RV parks, we have made reservations a week to 10 days in advance. We are pretty choosy about who we reserve with so our reviews are 30% 5-stars, 40% 4-stars, and 30% 3-stars. 1. We have mostly been able to reserve when and where we wanted. 2. We have never had an issue at an RV park with the owners or other RVers. 3. We have had minor issues with our RV which we managed without delay. 4. We love RVing.

    Just thought we would put our two cents in.