Friday, December 9, 2022


Readers’ tips for picking out a campsite


A couple of weeks ago, Editor Chuck passed along some suggestions on how to pick a good RV site. He asked readers if they had any to add to his list of 15 tips – and we got “umptee-ump” suggestions to add.

An eye on the weather

Bart Savino suggests: “During rainy season, avoid lower levels of the park, especially near bodies of water. Unless you enjoy muddy feet or worse.” PJ Nyvall adds, “We ask the park manager, ‘Does it ever flood Here?’ We live in the Hill Country of Texas.”

In a closely related vein, keeping cool is high on the priority list. To that end, Ed says, “In the warm months I like to park facing north to northeast. That way my sitting area is shaded by both the awning and RV. That’s the hottest time of the day and the most likely time I will be sitting out.”

Elbow room

“When backing into your site make sure that you have room for your slide-outs,” advises Einar Hansen. And to make it easier, here’s a trick provided by Barb Palm: “We bought a dowel at a hardware store. Cut it to the extended length of our widest slide. When we get out to check our site – before leveling or anything else – we use the dowel to see if the slide will come close to anything. It helps to eyeball the compartment doors to make sure they can swing open and clear a power pole or a big bush. Saves a lot of time to use this dowel first.”

Make a scouting report

Even before you get to the campground, a bit of advance work may save you piles of frustration. June, who frequents state parks, says, “I take advantage of the maps available online showing the campsites and their lengths … and look at the photos of the campsite at the State Park’s website, if available. Another good resource for that is” Robert Luhrs uses a similar system for a variety of parks. “We look at Good Sam ratings online then go to the reviews of the park … If there is a website for the park we look at that as well. It will show the ‘Best’ of the park. What it doesn’t say is what we say might be ‘red flags’.”

Calling ahead and asking questions is a must for Tina. She observes, “If WiFi is important to you, make sure it is available throughout the park and not just at the office or community center. If cable TV is important to you, ask if it’s included in the price and not a perk you need to get from the cable company at an additional cost. Just because the park advertises WiFi and cable does not mean it is included in the fee.”

Bill Morrison is a bit cagey when making reservations. “I always stretch my coach length by a couple of feet when registering by phone for fitment, and stress and double stress southwest exposure for satellite. Being full timers I would estimate we get what we ask for (and pay for) about 80% of the time.” He adds, “All bets are off in Alaska! The terms ‘full hook up’ and ‘pull throughs’ are a matter of opinion.”

A little bit of on-the-ground effort works for Mike Henrich, who suggests, “If you primarily take weekend trips, take a day trip during the off season to scout out local campgrounds.” Watch for what else? “As you drive up look at the surrounding area. If you see trash everywhere it’s a good indication how the rest of the campground is,” warns Stephen Malochleb. And one more thing, writes David Howard. “If the site is near the restrooms, and you can tell by the odor before even entering the building, find another site.”

And for folks with canine-sensitivities, here’s J. Hamm’s viewpoint: “While not anti dog, I do not appreciate barking dogs – particularly the yippy ones. I check the close campsites for evidence of dogs and parking noises. Some parks have separate loops for dog owners, so avoid them if possible.”

Once you’re actually at your site, Eric Ramey says, “Before pulling into a site get out and look at the ground – just to make sure the previous occupants didn’t leave any bottles on the ground that blend in nicely with the ground.” Steve Winterowd advises, “Check out the irrigation system of the park – water spots are no fun. Also, check out the landing zone in front of the steps to avoid tracking ‘stuff’ in the rig.”

Rounding it all out, Vince adds, “Make sure the connection threads on the sewer pipe are not stripped. If they are then you have to put a rock, brick, etc., on your drain hose which will make it necessary to ensure that it doesn’t pop out when emptying the tanks. In that case you never want to pull the valve when not standing right by the drain.” Thanks for the mental picture, Vince!

We could have practically filled up the entire newsletter with suggestions that came down from our readers. Thanks to all of you for contributions – whether we were able to print them or not. Keep ’em coming!

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Stan Hume
2 years ago

One thing I do in looking at a campground I have never visited is to look at a satellite view of the campground In the map app on my iPad to see about the location relative to roads, railroad tracks, orientation of the sites, trees, the pool, etc. it’s just another data point in selecting a campground.

2 years ago

Instead of a dowel, I opened the basement storage doors under the slides and put a line with marker on the inside to show where the slide comes out. When my husband is parking at the campsite, I go around the rig, open the basement doors to see exactly how far the slide is going to come out. Doing that helps avoid overhead Side obstacles, tree branches as well as making sure the doors can be opened fully enough to access.
I so remember hearing the anguished expletives from a neighbor as he put out his rear slide on his brand new rig into an electrical pedestal.

3 years ago

The dowel idea for measuring your slides is a good idea, but I found that the pole I use for washing the rig can do the same…I can put pieces of labeled tape for the width of each slide.

3 years ago

A very useful app for your phone is “Sun Surveyor”. There are both free and paid versions. When picking a site or actually setting up camp it will let you check the sun’s path throughout the day. By using the camera function you can see where the shade/sun will be at any particular time of day.