Within just a few miles in this city, RV owners and lovers can find a plethora of RV surplus and parts stores, services, and RV manufacturers. This includes the big guns in the industry such as Jayco, Dutchman, Forest River, Thor, and Winnebago.
Elkhart became the “trailer capital of the world” in the late 1940s because of its central location and access to major highways and railroads. Manufactured trailers, parts, and supplies could be easily shipped all over the country and the world.
Located in the heart of Indiana Amish country, the city produces more than 80 percent of the RVs that are sold around the world. Indiana is also the second main area in the country for automobile production, so it makes sense to have a similar workforce working on RVs and RV parts.
If you find yourself traveling through the Midwest, taking a trip to Elkhart can give you the option to visit your rig’s birthplace, help you pick up that difficult to find part, or get some services or repairs you might not be able to find elsewhere.
1. RV factory tours
If you want to see exactly how your RV is manufactured, book a factory tour with your favorite manufacturer. Most of the major RV manufacturers in the area offer free tours of their products in various forms of construction.
It’s fascinating to see the process and how employees specialize in specific components of each camper or trailer. Tours typically last about two hours and may include tours of brand new RVs just off the assembly line.
Be sure to wear good, closed toed shoes and bring a tote bag for the company’s brochures, price sheets, and other materials. Some of the tours are a little more fun. For example, the Jayco tour includes a trolley tour from their 1880s restored farmhouse visitors center to the plant.
2. Pick up parts and accessories
Searching around the web or in a big box store for that specific RV part can be frustrating. It’s best if you are able to find the part in a store where you can actually try it out.
Within just a few miles of many of the factories, there are also dozens of parts and accessories manufacturers and stores. This is the place to pick up that specific plumbing part, awning fabric, new captain’s chair, or even a vintage icebox.
Visit RV Parts Nation for everything from generators and water heaters to parts for horse trailers. Factory RV Surplus sells a huge range of RV furniture and furniture parts. ParKin Accessories sells RV windows, windshields, and doors. Just like the RV factory tours, come prepared with a list of parts you need and ask each dealer if they offer repair and installation services as well.
3. Shop at the Super Shows
It’s guaranteed that the RV Capital of the World will have some excellent RV shows where you can snag a great deal. Throughout the year, Elkhart is home to several massive RV shows. They not only feature Indiana-based manufacturers, but also RV-related services, campgrounds, and accessories.
In addition, these shows attract RV dealers and manufacturers outside of Elkhart, so you are bound to see a wide variety of campers and travel trailers from all over the country. The Midwest RV Super Show is held in August at the Elkhart-based RV/MH Hall of Fame and Museum.
The Indy RV Expo is held in January and is one of the largest in the Midwest. With over 120,000 square feet of RV goodness being displayed, bring those same comfortable walking shoes.
4. Join a rally
With so many RV lovers in one area, there is no reason not to attend a rally. The city of Elkhart makes it easy to both set up and attend a rally of like-minded RV owners.
Many of these gatherings are held at the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds and all ticket and date information can be found with the specific manufacturer. If you are a fan of vintage travel trailers, the Tin Can Tourists rally is held in the summer.