Private RV Parks have a few staples that make them all similar: parking spaces, usually with hookups.
That’s where the similarities end – and that’s something we’ve found out as we’ve traveled the last 11 months. (Prior to that, we didn’t do a lot of RVing. Jeremiah had a truck camper he split with his dad, but he never stayed at an RV park.)
Let’s start with some of the basics –
The parking itself varies. Some are large cement pads, others are asphalt pads, and others still are gravel. We’ve stayed on all three of these, and honestly? It doesn’t make a huge difference which one we stay on if the site is relatively level. I’m sure there is some appeal to it that I’m missing, but we really don’t mind what we stay on as long as we have space to park.
There are several ways to park an RV: Pull-through and Back-in. They’re exactly what they sound like; it can be easier for something like a fifth wheel to pull-through a site so they don’t have to navigate around things while backing up. If an RV park offers both these sites, they will often refer to pull-through sites as “premium.” However, for us, we’ve found it doesn’t matter either way. Again, we drive a class A so it’s like parking a very very huge car. That’s actually not a great example. But, for us, we don’t need a “premium” spot.
Water, Electric, Sewer
Hookups are almost a given, and is a main reason people choose to stay at RV parks – they can empty their black and gray tanks, have electricity, and water. But even these differ. Our water pressure at our last place was abysmal, and it’s great here but I think something is wrong with their septic because it has a faint scent of shit wherever we go. Jeremiah is blaming the cow fields. I am blaming the RVs.
All the little -and big- differences
Next, we got all the other the add-ons of what differentiates RV parks from one another.
- Scenery: In my opinion, RV park differences start here.
The place we’re staying right now has a great loop around the pond that is right around 1/2 a mile, which is awesome for walking and offers some natural beauty. On the other hand, there’s no shade here. The last park we stayed at was gorgeous, and each spot was very well shaded with huge old oak trees at every site, making a huge difference with how much we had to run our air conditioner in 100 degree heat.
Driving in to a gravel parking lot versus a lot that is covered with greens and flowers automatically puts us in a specific state of mind. There’s something to be said for basic lawn care.
- Spacing: When I asked Jeremiah if he recalled having privacy at any RV park, his response was, “I don’t remember. Maybe one had a hedge?” This sums up RV parks privacy and spacing.
Private RV parks make more money the closer they can put sites together, so on average, there isn’t a ton of room between sites. Some don’t offer any space between the sites at all – things like grilling outside or setting up chairs is a no-go. Others offer picnic tables and enough space to relax. Maybe in some of the really expensive places, there’s privacy. It’s one of the main reasons we prefer state parks and boondocking though – more space.
- Amenities: Here, I’m talking about average RV parks, not the ultra nice ones which I’ve reserved for a different point. Some private parks have pool and workout rooms. Others just offer bathrooms with showers. We have yet to stay at an RV park without laundry. KOAs, which I think we’ve stayed at a total of 3 nights, often offer a basic food delivery to your door – pizza at one place, barbecue sandwiches at another. It’s cute, but KOAs are typically in places that we want to try the local food.
- Mail delivery: Some places offer you mailboxes if you’re staying for a month, others have mail delivered to your door.
- Trash: A silly thing, but some places offer trash pickup every morning if you place your trash bags outside. Others just have dumpsters, and then others have recycling. We’ve stayed at places that are within an hour of one another where one will offer recycling and another one won’t, so it’s just what the park chooses to offer.
- Specialties: We stayed at a place in Oregon that had their own hot springs, and this really falls in under “speciality” reasons to stay at a private park. Others have cabins to rent. And then, there’s the real specialty parks, ones complete with swim up bars, lazy rivers, and crazy water parks. Others have fine dining, cafes, saunas, and golf courses. We haven’t stayed at any of these, because those things aren’t that important to us.
- Pricing: This varies so much. The most expensive nights we’ve spent were at a fairground parking lot. We parked on grass but had hookups. No shade, and no space between us and our neighbor. It was 65 bucks a night. We stayed at one that was $15 per night. It really varies. However, the higher class resorts ones easily go for over $100 a night – like this one that goes around 200 bucks a night. (Our current RV wouldn’t be accepted into some of the more expensive places because it’s not new enough – they often have 5-year age restrictions in the high-end resort places.) Location near to a highly-coveted event or park will also raise the prices.
Pricing falls into two slots for us – nightly stays which typically vary from $30 to $65. When we pay monthly, the nightly costs are greatly reduced, typically to between 18 and 25, but we do have to pay for electric this way and that varies by the season.
That’s about it! Private RV parks are big parking lots with hookups, and from there, they vary immensely. Let us know if you have any questions about RV parks, or let me know if I’m missing something that you find really important about where you choose to stay!