In the past few months, I’ve visited scores of RV parks across nearly 40 different states.
There have been some amazing stops along the way, and some parks where we’ve pulled in and turned right around to leave.
Sometimes you can tell if your stay will be wonderful or terrible from just a phone call to the front office. Other times you’ll know when you first drive in.
Here are ten things that I’ve found make any RV park great.
1.) Don’t be a parking lot!
Some RV parks are nothing but a slab of concrete, like Liberty Harbor RV Park across from New York City. These “parking lots” are hardly welcoming.
A great RV park has gravel spots instead of asphalt and trees that keep us from having to see what our neighbor is cooking for dinner.
2.) Offer complimentary anything
Every once in a while we’ll find a gem of an RV park that gives you something free when you arrive. Water bottles, a magnet, coffee – we even found an RV park that gives complimentary breakfast each morning!
And yesterday, we stopped at the Americamps RV Resort in Richmond, Virginia. They gave us free ice cream! It’s a small token, but it can separate the good RV parks from the great ones.
3.) Free WiFi
In 2014, I expect WiFi at every RV park. My job depends on it! When RV parks charge an extra fee for their Internet, or only offer it in their office, we leave. Simple as that.
Free WiFi is offered at McDonald’s, Starbucks, even at Target to use while you shop! It should be available in all RV parks too.
BONUS: If RV parks have what we call “Netflix WiFi,” or Internet strong enough to stream a video, we stay extra nights.
4.) Natural beauty
RV parks should let you get back to nature. They should be tucked away in the countryside.
5.) Picnic tables and fire pits
One of the many wonderful parts of camping is the smell of campfires.
Believe it or not, half of the campgrounds we’ve visited don’t have picnic tables or fire pits at each site.
I love s’mores and it’s a shame when you can’t sit outside and enjoy them!
BONUS: The easiest way to make friends in an RV park is to offer them a s’more. I know this from experience!
6.) Friendly faces
“You’re extremely rude and we are not taking our business to you.”
I’ve heard my husband say this on the phone before and I’ve decided not to stay at certain RV parks because of impolite voices on the line.
This is a rare occurrence that happens almost exclusively with corporate-run RV parks, but it still happens. More often than not, we are given a warm welcome.
We stayed an extra night at Greeley RV Park because we loved the woman who ran the office. Good service makes return customers.
7.) Showers with hot water
A few weeks ago in New Jersey, I showered at Timberlane Campground in a push-button shower. Imagine a push button sink where the water runs for 5 seconds and automatically turns off.
That’s how the shower was!
Can you imagine washing your hair that way? That’s precisely why I shower in park facilities and not in my RV.
All campgrounds should offer shower facilities, preferably where I can control how much water I use. Extra points if you have plenty of hot water.
8.) Large streets
All too often, we pull into parks where branches scrape the top of our home or we worry about making a sharp turn without hitting a tree. When your business revolves around large vehicles, you can’t afford to have small roads.
We ran into this problem driving to Shady Rest RV Park in Beckley, West Virginia.
We came through so late in the season that the local state parks were already closed and this was our closest option. Not to be dramatic, but I thought we would die driving to this RV park.
A one-lane road winds up and down sharp curves surrounded by tall trees and steep hills. Yikes!
9.) No speed bumps
You’ve driven over speed bumps in your rig, right?
It’s terrifying! The back end jostles around and dishes rattle in their cabinets. I turn nervously in my chair hoping that our refrigerator door hasn’t flown open or that food hasn’t started falling out of the cabinets.
We’re already driving a huge vehicle, why do we need to go over speed bumps?
This is what it feels like sometimes:
10.) Accept reward programs
If an RV park offers neither of these two services, we don’t go. It’s too difficult to find RV parks any other way.
BONUS: Have a website. We’ve visited at least 5 RV parks in our travels that don’t have websites. They told us they “hadn’t gotten around to it yet.” Hmmm.
Inexpensive washers with powerful dryers, clean restrooms with locking doors (not just shower curtains), hot tubs or indoor pools, and gift shops are all wonderful amenities at any RV park.
Wild Acres Resort in Old Orchard Beach, Maine has all of the above. Except they did break my ‘no speed bumps’ rule.
We stayed for 4 nights (at an off-season rate of $24.00 with tax) because we loved the park so much. The resort was nestled in pine trees and within a ten minute walk of this beautiful sight:
What do you look for in your favorite RV parks? Which parks would you never go back to?