How to Choose the Perfect RV Park and Campsite?

A guide to finding the perfect RV campsite

Are you a boater enthusiast and swimmer looking for a lakeside or oceanfront RV park? Prefer wide open spaces in the great outdoors with plenty of hiking trails? When deciding where to stay, whether for the night, the weekend, or the season, there are several things to consider.

Bella Terra of Gulf Shores, Foley. Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Find the Right Site

Many RVers spend a lot of time searching for the perfect RV park while overlooking the fact that finding the perfect campsite can be just as important. Terrain, location, amenities, water sources, and traffic patterns—just to name a few—play a big part in selecting the perfect spot. Here are a few strategies to help you find the right site.

Vista del Sol RV Resort, Bullhead City, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Questions to ask:

  • What’s your budget? Having a clear budget will help you make your decision when looking at various campgrounds and resorts.
  • Are you staying in an RV? Is everyone in your group staying in an RV, or will some prefer tent or cabin?
  • What is your length of stay? Is this an overnight stop, several days, or a longer stay?
  • What is your camping style? Do you prefer numerous amenities or low-impact camping?
Palm Canyon Campground, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campgrounds are generally your most basic setup and are usually publicly owned and found in national, state, and county/regional parks. They tend to be more rustic, have ample room for tent camping, and cater to more outdoorsy types. They usually have greater emphasis on nature and scenic views than amenities and typical stays are shorter. It’s hit or miss as to the number of campgrounds that can accommodate big rigs so check the website or call the campground directly.

Cajun Palms RV Resort, Henderson, Louisiana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV parks and resorts offer amenities and creature comforts, typically with full service sites. They are usually privately owned and offer both short and longer term stays. Most RV parks offer Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, showers, and dog parks.

Sea Breeze RV Park, Portland, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV resorts will be well manicured and in good condition. The roads in the park should be wide enough to allow RVs of all sizes to enter and leave sites easily. Some RV resorts are gated with manned gate houses and you might find that your RV must be of a certain caliber in order to gain entry.  There is no industry standard; you may notice more luxurious amenities and surroundings according to price. These amenities may include exercise rooms, Jacuzzis, lap pools, in-house restaurants and/or bars, or golf courses.

Columbia Riverfront RV Park, Woodland, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Is your campsite spacious enough for a comfortably stay? Is there room to extend slide-outs?

Is there enough space to back in your rig? Do you require a pull-through site?

Are you bringing your pet? Does the campground provide pet-friendly amenities?

Do you want to a park with a bustling social scene or are you seeking solitude?

Meaher State Park, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning

Take the time to research not only the campground or RV resort but your route, when you’ll be arriving, and any current restrictions related to COVID-19 or weather. And with today’s travel challenges, it’s even more important than ever to stay safe and be prepared. The RV park website is a great place to start. Supplement this with online reviews and personal recommendations.

Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And when you do call for reservations, be sure to give them a detailed description of your RV (length, height, toad) and what your requirements are in the way of hook-ups and additional services.

Pala Casino RV Park, Pala, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Make a reservation

Demand for RVs in the era of COVID-19 has surged across the country. Many Americans are skipping hotels and air travel for RV parks in this era of social distancing with the industry scrambling to keep up with the demand. With an increasing scarcity of available sites it is advisable to book a site well in advance. This maximizes the likelihood of securing your top choice site. Phone the park to make a reservation. Reserving online isn’t always a possibility. You’re also more likely to snag a great spot if you’re more flexible with your dates. Popular destinations occasionally have campsites available mid-week.

Golden Palms Village RV Park, Hemet, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Pro tip

Discounts are typically given for longer stays. Are you able to escape for a week or even a month? Ask about specials and you’ll likely receive a lower price per night.

Creek Fire RV Resort, Savannah, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many RV parks post their campground maps online. You can even check out the satellite view on Google Earth for a bird’s-eye view of the campground.

If you’re traveling with children, you might prefer a spot near the pool or playground.

River Plantation RV Park, Seviereille, Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When selecting the right campsite, you may face a trade-off and need to prioritize which factors are most important to you.

Worth Pondering…

It is what we think we know already that often prevents us from learning.

—Claude Bernard