Monday, June 5, 2023


10-Year Rule is rare at most parks, but stay tuned

The “10-Year Rule” in the camping business is something that experienced RVers love to debate but likely have seldom, if ever, experienced in their own travels.

Rigs like this might become more common, and a bit harder to place in some parks.

Rules that ban RVs with more than 10 or 15 years of “experience” are the Bigfoot of camping. You likely haven’t run into a park that enforces those rules, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there.

Most RVers assume the reason for the 10-Year Rule at any park has to do with a big dose of snobbery. Park owners assume those folks in the brand-new $500,000 rig won’t want to rub shoulders with the common folks rolling in with their “vintage” Winnebagos and Shasta trailers.

Most campground owners do all that they can to stay away from age-limit rules, too. One recent reader called any 10-Year Rule “outright discrimination,” which it isn’t. Parks that do institute an RV age rule do it for many reasons. It is a deliberate business decision on the part of the campground owner, not discrimination.

Similar to HOAs

Private campgrounds can resemble small towns on most summer weekends, with thousands of folks in close proximity hopefully all having a good time. But any time you put that many people in a somewhat confined space, you are going to have to have some “rules of engagement.”

Just like most HOAs (Homeowner’s Associations), campground owners have developed certain rules over time that help them smoothly run their businesses and also aid in the enjoyment of most of their guests. A few owners may have chosen to include the 10-Year Rule in that list of rules, and that’s their right as a business owner.

They may have decided to concentrate on luring more high-end motorhomes. Also, they might assume—rightly or wrongly—that those high-end owners won’t want to park next to the 20-year-old diesel pusher with a few dents and dings. They may also have had some problems with older rigs in the past. It may have been a broken rig unable to leave the spot, leaky plumbing, etc. Regardless of the reason, it’s their park, their rules.

It could get worse

Since the summer of 2020, we’ve entered an era where supply and demand now favor the campground owner. There are so many campers out there competing for a finite number of sites that owners can afford to be picky.

With the RV manufacturing industry cranking out 600,000+ new units a year, the ability of campground owners to pick and choose their customers becomes greater. A campground full of nothing but shiny new motorhomes has more curb appeal than one sprinkled with Shasta Airflytes and retooled school buses.

The other side of that coin is that existing RV owners—spooked by tales of rubbish RVs rolling off assembly lines—are more likely to hang onto the rig they have a bit longer, thus exacerbating the issue as they perhaps step over the 10-Year Rule line.

Millions of new RVers in brand-new rigs

The wave of millions of new RVers out there, rolling down the road in brand-new rigs, might be less likely to use a campground that allows the older rigs. All RV park owners want to get their share of these newbies, because the glut of campers we are currently experiencing won’t last forever.

Another factor in a potential increase in the number of campgrounds with 10-Year Rules could be changes in ownership.

As more “Mom & Pop” campgrounds are snapped up by large investors and big ownership groups, it stands to reason that the 10-Year Rule will more often make their list of park laws. After all, investors aren’t the ones who have to enforce the rules, or stand toe-to-toe with angry RVers. There are plenty of campers right now to pick and choose from, and its likely these investors will see someone driving a half-million-dollar RV as someone they’d prefer to do business with.

What you can do

If you find yourself driving or pulling a rig that’s ten years or older, don’t panic! Here are a few things to consider:

  • There are still far, far more private campgrounds that allow older rigs than those that don’t. If the one closest to where you want to go isn’t allowing older rigs, look next door. They likely have close-by competition that is more than willing to take what they don’t seem to want.
  • Public campgrounds (federal, state, and national parks) aren’t interested in guessing the birthday of your rig. You’ll always have a safe landing there.
  • Try to keep up appearances. If your vintage RV looks like it’s been well taken care of, it’s more likely to pass muster.
  • If you see a 10-Year Rule posted on a campground’s website, it’s OK to call and ask if an exception can be made. Be ready with nice looking (but current) photos of your rig, should they ask to see them before confirming. Sometimes the 10-Year Rule is there to give owners an out when a truly undesirable rig rolls in.
  • If you’re all set up at a park with a 10-Year Rule, keep it quiet. It’s tempting to brag to your camping neighbor about how well your 15-year-old RV looks and performs. But you might be talking with a rule follower who just can’t help reporting you to the owner.
  • Be aware that occasionally (and hopefully very rarely) you might run into a campground with a 10-Year Rule. Just like those Bigfoot sightings, we’ve all heard tales of these encounters and it’s certainly possible that there are more out there. Have a Plan B in place and be ready to roll with it if need be.

The RVing landscape will no doubt continue to evolve rapidly as parks add more sites and more RV campgrounds come online in desirable areas. If you do run head-on into a 10-Year Rule park, an angry outburst won’t get you far. All you can do it ask nicely, and graciously accept the owner’s ruling. It’s their park, their rules.

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Mike Gast
Mike Gast
Mike Gast was the vice president of Communications for Kampgrounds of America Inc. for 20 years before retiring in 2021. He also enjoyed a long newspaper career, working as a writer and editor at newspapers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Montana. He and his wife, Lori Lyon, now own and operate the Imi Ola Group marketing company, focusing on the outdoor industry.


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1 year ago

I don’t stay at age restricted campgrounds/RV Parks (RVs or 55+). Their parks, their rules. My money, my choice. And they go into a little book. I will NEVER go there. And I have a long memory for some things. I might forget where I left my sunglasses, but I will never forget how Crooked Hook RV “Resort” treated my husband and I back in 1979. Fair? Probably not. But my money, my rules.

1 year ago

Our campground has a 10 year rule and I’m glad they do. If you have a 10 year or 20 year old RV and it is well maintained and presentable you are allowed in. The rule is there to keep the junkers out.

Debbie O.
1 year ago

At my campground they changed to this rule a few years ago. An older camper with aged wiring caught fire in the night. The wiring in these campers deteriorate over time. One person died in the blaze. It was horrific. I had an older camper too but quickly reupped to a newer one. We are all very close in proximity together…and there was no time to move the campers that were close.

1 year ago

In general, I like this article. As far as it goes. RVing, however, isn’t exactly like HOA’s. There are very large divergences. But, for me personally, I’d simply follow the suggestions mentioned in the article and make a personal note to walk away from campgrounds never to return that are inclined to discriminate against owners of “collectible” RV’s. Discrimination is, in many cases, acceptable behavior. By the way, I sold off my expensive Airstream ten years back in favor of a much easier and more financially relaxing 1976 collectible 20′ Swinger made entirely in Elkhart, IN and the USA .

1 year ago
Reply to  Donn

Good for you. Enjoy!

1 year ago

At the park I work at we do ask the year of the RV for longer stays. If it is older than 10 years we ask for photos. Although we wouldn’t LOVE having an RV here that looks like its been sitting in the sun with no care for decades…we do make exceptions all the time on older models. Mainly in the photos we look for black burn marks around compartments, window unit ACs and if the photo shows the RV in a site then we like to see how the site is kept currently. We can’t maintain landscaping if people leave loads of junk in and around their yard and RV. Also we are in a large tourist city so don’t want it to look like people are living here. You can’t see all safety issues from photos but at least we can pick out the issues I mentioned above. On top of safety issues we have had guests in junkers staying less than a month unable to move the rv out for whatever reason. This is also something recommended by our parks insurance company.

Julia McCutcheon
1 year ago

If your hoping to land a spot on the Central Coast in California be ready for the ten years old rule. Whether you are camping out in the wine country of Paso Robles or off Highway 1 along the beach of Pismo the ten years old rule is enforce. Call to ask though first, some parks do make an exception but it’s rare. That includes the state parks too.

Bob Palin
1 year ago

That includes the state parks too”

I doubt that, instant lawsuit. It could easily be shown that owners of older RVs tend to come from specific and generally underprivileged demographics and thus the 10 year rule would be legally defined discrimination. Furthermore the state cannot discriminate against its citizens on the basis of the age of their RV anyway, and California in particular seems extremely unlikely to try. I just checked a couple near Napa Valley and none mention RV age.

1 year ago

“The wave of millions of new RVers out there, rolling down the road in brand-new rigs, might be less likely to use a campground that allows the older rigs.” This is a ridiculous statement. When someone is reserving a space either online or by phone, I’m sure they are not asking “will my space be next to someone with a rig that’s not as nice as mine”? These days, they should be grateful to get a space. Sheesh!

Bob Palin
1 year ago
Reply to  Cecilia


1 year ago

My mom and step dad where camp hosts at an RV park in Florida and used to enjoy traveling in their RV. Now let me tell you the main reason thy have the 10 year rule. There are many people who live in their RV full time that can’t afford a house or apartment, unfortunately many of these people are less than standup people, drugs, alcohal abuse and they don’t follow park rules. Rude and trash, broken RV’s there always fixing and hard to get them to move on once they park. Basically squatters in the park, so they have these 10 year rule to keep them out in the first place. The parks just don’t want problems. But of course park owners won’t come out and say that because it sounds discrimitory.

1 year ago

I appreciate the author’s perspective, but I think he missed the mark on the reason for the 10 year rule. One of the biggest headaches for a campground owner is a tenant who checks in and will not leave. It is tough (and costly) to physically remove a camper from a campground. Unfortunately, the Campground Owners implement this rule because they believe (and it may be supported by facts) that the owners of a newer RV will be less likely to move in and not want to move out.

Further, the author keeps commenting about older Motorhomes being the issue. While that can be the case, it is the Travel Trailers and Fifth Wheels that are being targeted with this rule. Some of travel trailers being built are not designed to survive 10 years (not all, but some). So, many of these older trailers are economically disadvantaged, that may have leaking plumbing and cause issues.

1 year ago

My question is do the people in $500,000 RVs pay more for a space than someone in a 1974 winnebago? And if not then why should park owners care what you roll in on, as long as you pay your space rent on time.

rollin mckim
1 year ago

I’ve been thrown out of nicer places!

Pete Swales
1 year ago

As an Florida RV park Owner from a land far away, I would like to say we do not filter bookings on the basis of age. Yesterday we had an amazing Class A staying with us from the 1970’s that was in better condition than some campers under 10 years old! It was a delight to host such a camper with their delightful guests. One of our regular guests (G’day Lonnie!) drives an RV that cost $3.2 million to build and it is really something!! He couldn’t care less who he was parked next to, and that it is just how we like it!!
Pete Swales
Outback Springs RV Resort
Bonifay Florida Panhandle

rollin mckim
1 year ago
Reply to  Pete Swales

Thank you for your decency! It’s not the rig but the owner who matters. Oh, and the care he applies to his rig!

1 year ago
Reply to  Pete Swales

I agree with “Rollin McKim”!

1 year ago

I believe the 10 year rule was created to weed out vehicles with old or non standard electric hookup on their rig.
Once plugged into the park wiring it can cause outages and fires that the park owner has to deal with.

1 year ago

I object to the use of the statement, “10-Year Rule will more often make their list of park laws”. A “rule” is not a “law”. Also, even though I work hard to maintain my RV, and don’t worry about 10 year rules, this is a bad bad business decision. Why? Because if you discriminate against someone(s) and word gets around, no one will want to stay at your facility. It may be their “right”, but if park owners lose enough business (i.e. money) over it, they’ll change the “rules”.

1 year ago

I fulltimed for 5 years starting in 2010 in a 1989 Barth class A. I was asked a few times about rv age, I lied. The Sikkens paint was showroom new even after 20+ years.

Once we had to stay in Indio, CA because of a toad breakdown. RV resort was $85 per night. The park let us in no questions asked. We thought it would be a snobfest with all the high-end coaches. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. Some of the friendliest people we met.

My point is if you have an old rig in great condition, you can get in about anywhere. Maybe things have changed?

1 year ago
Reply to  Vinny

So do you still lie about the age of your RV if asked?

1 year ago

Experienced RVers don’t “like to debate” this. It is newcomers who keep hearing about it and live in dread of it. That’s why I did not read the article.

1 year ago

You are aware that you say it’s not discrimination, but then your article is basically saying that middle and low income people are not worth doing business with… That’s discrimination.

Bob Palin
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Gast

I disagree, I think that it could easily be shown that owners of older RVs do tend to come from demographics which are underprivileged and those will also tend to be protected classes under discrimination laws. One lawsuit is all that is needed, maybe I’ll call the ACLU.

Tonnie Rico
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob Palin

can we start a class action? I am having a 1996 Winnebago completely refurbished. Decided to go to Prescott today to see about staying there for 4 months this summer and was told my motorhome is too old. I told them it was being refurbished as we speak. She said, “will let you know” I offered to send pictures. I’m really very miffed. It costs a lot to re-do one of these and I was so excited about it only to find out they wont let me in.

1 year ago

Look up the word discrimination before trying to explain how this isn’t an example of it.

Bob Palin
1 year ago
Reply to  Todd

It clearly is discrimination just as my not eating red M&Ms is, but the legal definition of discrimination is not the same as the dictionary definition.

David Bavid
1 year ago

“It’s not discrimination” immediately compares it to historically racist HOA’s

Lesco Brandon
1 year ago

I hate people in general so I wouldn’t stay in probably any of these places. My wife and I are happy to sleep in our carp van. We have a 2005 40’ freightliner, but honestly we prefer our 2006 dodge caravan cargo with a full-size mattress and a peejug. (Yes she uses it too) RARELY do we pay to camp because we don’t care where we sleep, it’s where we go. BLM land is great. No people, No Rules more or less, no rent, can openly carry my pistol for 🐍, great hiking, biking, and grilling out. Just have to have a rooftop carrier and a hitch mounted carrier for the bikes. Most fun you can have on 24mpg.

1 year ago
Reply to  Lesco Brandon

BLM land… No people? Clearly you haven’t been to southern California and Arizona BLM managed lands. I decided to try dispersed camping this year and was horrified by the site of 1000’s of campers at Imperial Dam LTVA. I lasted 3 days. It didn’t feel like camping, there was no veg to camo the numbers. Maybe it’s because I’m from a treed landscape. I was told there was an exodus of more than 600 RV’s a few days before I arrived. If I had seen that I might have turned around. I’m not giving up yet, there’s a vast amount of BLM land. Most of it I can’t access with my rig and possibly those are the places you are referring to. Maybe I’m more suited to FS dispersed camping.

Bob Palin
1 year ago
Reply to  cee

You really can’t judge BLM camping by LTVAs, they are designed and intended for large numbers of campers, most BLM land is wide open.

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