Tuesday, March 21, 2023


RVers debate ATVs, other motorized ‘toys,’ in campgrounds

“We love it,” Kyle’s smile beamed. “Having our ATVs with us at the campground when we camp has opened up a whole new side of the RVing experience.”

Kyle’s wife agreed. “Remember when the kids just wanted to look at their phones the entire camping weekend? Now they can’t wait to get outside!”

A newer phenomenon?

We never used to see so many motorized vehicles such as ATVs inside campgrounds. Golf carts aside, all that’s changed since manufacturers began to make RV toy haulers. Also, COVID ushered in a brand-new bunch of RVers and many of them are families with children under the age of 18. It seems like more and more folks are bringing motorcycles, minibikes, 4-wheelers, and other toys to the campground.

But wait, there’s more!

“We’ve seen it all,” Theo commented. “Smaller motorized toys don’t always require a toy hauler. Kids are on motorized scooters, hoverboards, minibikes, and even segues!”

“Don’t forget people in golf carts and riding electric bicycles,” Kyle added. “I’ve been thinking about getting a bike for myself.”

On the move

Yes, many campers are on the move even while parked on their RV site. So, what do RVers think about all this movin’ and shakin’? Our campfire discussion revealed two distinctly opposite opinions.

Thumbs up

  • Aid for mobility issues. “I don’t think my wife and I would RV as much without our golf cart,” John admitted. “She needs it to get around because of her mobility issues.”
  • Helps with chores. “I don’t have any trouble walking,” Doris added. “But I take the golf cart to get the laundry to and from the campground’s laundromat. It’s just quicker.”
  • Enjoyment. “We’ve met other motorcycle enthusiasts at various campgrounds. It’s fun to ride with newfound friends,” Leonard added.
  • Distraction. Kyle spoke again, “As I said before, the ATVs are a good distraction for our kids. They love the freedom and the wind in their faces. Honestly, I’m not sure they’d come camping if not for the ATVs.”
  • Ability to participate. “In some of the larger campgrounds, our RV site may be far, far away from the campground rec room. We use our electric bikes to get there and back for the planned activities,” Doris said.

Thumbs down

  • Crowding. “I guess I’m the ‘downer’ in this discussion,” Marcy admitted. “Many of the campgrounds we visit don’t have big enough sites to park all these toys. Toy owners end up encroaching on the campsites that are located on either side of them, which aggravates me.” (What about this reader who says they book two sites? One whole site is dedicated to their “toys”!)
  • Speeding. “I just wish everyone riding in these things would follow the speed limit,” Frank complained. “I worry some little kid is going to get thrown out of a 4-wheeler and get hurt, or worse!”
  • Safety. Marcy added, “Many times the drivers of the ATVs are younger, inexperienced drivers. They don’t watch out for little kids, older adults, and pets that may come into their path. I wonder if they even know the basic rules of the road.” Frank added, “I just want them to stay on the roads! I’ve seen kids on scooters blast through campsites without a care. I think all motorized toys should stay on the roadways.”
  • Courtesy. “I just wish the people with motorized toys would follow the quiet times posted by the campground,” Paul shook his head. “There’s nothing like waking up to the buzz, buzz, buzz of kids on minibikes at six in the morning!”


Several people brought up potential solutions:

  • Campgrounds could do a better job of stating and enforcing rules for the safe use of motorized vehicles.
  • Adults should teach children courtesy rules and the proper operation of motorized toys in the campground.
  • In-person monitoring of children and pets may help prevent misuse and accidents.
  • Dedicated areas within the campground may be set aside for the use of motorized vehicles.
  • Large, noisy, motorized toys may be allowed the use of campground roadways only when leaving and/or entering the campground. Extensive use within the campground is disallowed.

My takeaway

We do not have a toy hauler. Nor do we pull a trailer. We do, however, have a motorcycle that is shipped to our destination whenever we plan to stay in a campground for an extended period of time. We love riding the motorcycle and meeting other RVers who share this same passion.

That said, I understand the concerns mentioned at our campfire discussion, but I also understand the desire to make the camping experience great for everyone. What do you think about motorized “toys” like ATVs being in campgrounds? Let me know in the comments.



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21 days ago

I think that atv camping should be specific to atv campground’s.
They are loud and generally the folks who have them are also loud.
I think it’s great that these folks are having this fun, but not at the expense if us who prefer camping with quiet.

Mark K
23 days ago

We happened to see a motorhome enter a campground we were staying at in South Carolina with a trailer behind it that had a helicopter aboard. First and only time we saw that.

suzanne Ferris
23 days ago

The off road experience of seeing the scorched ground left behind when groups of ATVs compact the soil underneath conifers is upsetting- especially when the fir trees are defoliated by insects as a direct result and die. Such a waste.

23 days ago

ATV type vehicles are for going out to get or feed the cattle. You should have to prove you own a farm to even buy one.

Tommy Molnar
23 days ago
Reply to  KellyR

Ridiculous. You don’t like them, so nobody else should have them.

23 days ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Sorry, I don’t know how to put the tongue-in-cheek emoji thing in. I do like them for getting cows.

Tommy Molnar
22 days ago
Reply to  KellyR

So, if my wife and I aren’t rustling cows we aren’t supposed to ride our ATV’s or RZR’s?

22 days ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Rustle what you wish, where you wish. Happy ATV trails.

23 days ago

Not a fan of ATVs or golfcarts at campgrounds. There’s a time and place for everything. There are alternatives if you have mobility issues. Experienced an “adult” riding around in their golfcart playing their musical horn at a campground last Fall. Needless to say, we won’t be returning this year. Now when we book a campsite, we check to see what is allowed. We don’t have a problem with motorcycles if they’re operated maturely. We go camping to relax and enjoy nature. It’s difficult when there’s motorized vehicles racing around.

23 days ago
Reply to  Rock

I take my Utv everywhere we go. It is a licensed Utv and can be driven on the road legally. I follow speed limits and drive it responsibly. It’s no different than you driving your car.

24 days ago

As with all “Things”, it’s the people operating them that cause the problem. Children should not be turned loose with “Toys”. Be with them and monitor them. Be a parent. Set a good example, as a parent, by operating yours responsibly. Be respectful. Rules have a reason, even if you don’t see it.
Don’t like it? Move on.

Last edited 24 days ago by Richard
24 days ago

We mostly stay at national, state and county campgrounds and avoid those that are popular for OHV use. We just don’t care for the noise, dirt and pollution.

24 days ago
Reply to  BarbJ

Agreed. We avoid places we know have rampant use of OHV. It’s a noise and dust issue.

We have friends that have OHVs and grandkids they take with them to Parker AZ or Havasu and occasionally we join them but we know what we are getting into for those days.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

24 days ago

Ok when used responsibly.
Signed, PollyAnna

Brian D Anderson
24 days ago

One downside not mentioned, is the noise of small engines. There is a solution at hand, though, which is electric power. Electric bikes are fantastic and open up bicycle trail riding to people of all abilities and ages. There is also a range of off-road electric options from ATVs to mountain bikes. Just take care not to damage, or destroy the natural environment by staying on the trails.

Jim Johnson
24 days ago

Land, sea or air – it isn’t the motorized vehicles that bother me. It is users who lack skill and/or courtesy in their use.

Where minors are involved, many times it is as much the fault of the adults who are responsible for their oversight. It is rare that an unsupervised minor posses the judgement to see the impact of their behavior on other people or the environment beyond their own or their group’s personal enjoyment.

Of course there are the children who never grow up.

Responsible users make little impact on others or the environment so we don’t think about them.

Neal Davis
24 days ago

I prefer that kids not run rampant on ATVs, but I have never seen it or been subjected to it. Conventionally powered stuff (i.e., gasoline or diesel engine) seems to pose less risk than electric-powered stuff. The former create a known noise and thereby alert people to its approach, to its presence. Electric vehicles are quiet and can startle people and endanger them because of the lack of noise. Electric bikes typically are not moving fast enough to create much risk. Pedestrians usually can get out of the way and the rider can stop or evade at speeds legal within campgrounds (presuming they are followed even though they often seem ignored).

Donald N Wright
24 days ago

As I was backing into my site, there came the hells angel pack of kids on scooters. then there were the adults racing golf carts at night. Life is interesting.

24 days ago

It’s sad to see so many obese children riding on motorized toys instead of peddling bikes or taking hikes. We have a major obesity issue in this country starting way too early in our children. Do them a favor and get them physically active!


24 days ago
Reply to  Spike

Completely agree. Obesity is an epidemic.

24 days ago

Currently sitting in a very sandy campground where the rules state, interestingly, that any golf cart must have tires with smooth treads, probably for environmental reasons, and … wait for it … they must be electric, possibly for environmental reasons, but perhaps to maintain a reasonably peaceful home for the wildlife.

Bob M
24 days ago

I camp in State parks which don’t allow ATV’s or golf carts. ATV are loud, obnoxious and tear up roads and trails they use. Most don’t have insurance or license to cross roads as required in Pa. Many ride them illegally and cops are to lazy to stop them and have excuses not to. Would not camp where ATV’s and golf carts are allowed. Don’t mind licensed motorcycles that are licensed and owners are respectful of others.

Leslie P
24 days ago

The problem I have witnessed, unfortunately many times, is when the ATV’s ride on established trails. There are signs saying they can’t but some do anyway. They have damaged the trails extensively. As a campground host, when we would see an ATV coming in we would make it very clear they were to stay on the pavement. That rarely happened. Somehow they would always forget to stay off the trails. It made it unfair to the ATV users that did respect the signs.

24 days ago
Reply to  Leslie P

I can beat that! I’m a camp host in a national forest, serving remote campgrounds at the end of forest roads. My campgrounds are gated off to vehicle traffic–people must park in the gravel parking lot and walk their camping gear in to their site. It’s very nice, quiet and peaceful. But the new trendy thing to do is for campers to force their way in by vehicle or ATV now. They’re going around the gate, over the boulders placed in the gaps between trees, anything! And if I talk do them about it and to move their car, we get total belligerence in response.

21 days ago
Reply to  Jake

Yes, we also hosted and found the same response.

24 days ago

This is one of the reasons we usually stay in state parks. There is always a sign stating that all motorized vehicles must be registered, licensed, and insured, including electric bicycles. Also, the parks are patrolled and rules are enforced. We have seen personal mobility assistors so there may be an exemption for them

24 days ago

Bikes have always been a part of camping so I don’t have a problem with them. However, the new E-bike craze is making things a little problematic. I see riders ignoring stop signs, exceeding the speed limits and forcing avid walkers out of their way as for some reason the biker seems to think they have the right of way. Golf carts are a craze that has gotten out of control. Many campgrounds use it as a revenue source with rentals but the rules of use are ignored. Young drivers out joy riding, loud gas motors, ignoring all the road rules, driving at night without lights, etc. Even the campground workers abuse the use of their golf carts. And the dust!!!!! Camping isn’t camping anymore. Many of the new campers have subscribed to the “ME” attitude while ignoring how it may affect others. Some claim it to be progress but others wish for the good old days.

Seann Fox
24 days ago

Hoe many of these people carry insurance? If their atv, golf cart, while, etc hits your car, RV or you?

24 days ago

I ride an atv at home on the place. I have no neighbors for a mile. I don’t want to go camping to hear the racket. I would never do that to others.

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