Friday, August 12, 2022


Useful RV applications of Google Earth, Part 4: Dump stations

This is the fourth installment in the series on the many useful RV applications of Google Earth.

In the first installment we reviewed the useful applications of Google Earth when deciding, in advance, what RV Park or campground best suits your needs and preferences along with advance navigation clues/difficulties. In the second installment we looked at useful applications of Google Earth/Maps to determine vertical heights (aka low clearances). In the third installment we looked at useful applications of Google Earth/Maps for locating fuel stations that are RV friendly and looking at ingress/egress options.

In this installment we will look at useful applications of Google Earth to find and “preview” dump stations.

While websites and apps will give you an address of a dump station and maybe inform you if rinse water and potable water are also available, Google Earth can provide you with so much more.

Using Google Earth you can “fly over” and/or “drive by” the dump station in advance of your visit to see if it meets your needs and can accommodate your RV. As we all know, not all RV dump stations are well thought out. Taking an advance peek at one can save a lot of frustration later! As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  For me, seeing is believing!

Here are 12 useful applications of Google Earth when searching out RV dump stations

  • Use the search box in the top left hand corner to find dump stations along your route. Enter “RV Dump Stations near City, ST.” Example “RV Dump Stations near Red Lodge, MT.” Note: If I don’t find a dump station in the area I am searching I will also check apps and websites for a listing that Google Earth may not display. I will then utilize the applications below to gain additional information.

    Dump stations near Red Lodge, Montana
  • Use satellite view and/or street view to see the exact location of the dump station. The most obvious clue is the concrete apron seen via satellite view.

    - street view
    Street view allows you to sneak a peek at this dump station

Once you have determined the location of the dump station you can:

  • Determine the direction of travel required to place your termination outlet on the correct side to access the dump opening.
  • Determine which entrance provides the easiest access to the dump station when entering a property with multiple entrances, like a fuel station.

    applications of Google Earth - Fuel Station
    Knowing where the dump station is in advance allows you to plan your approach. Note: This dump station has no rinse water at the dump. Although they do sell propane!
  • See if non-potable water is available to rinse a sewer hose. Where is it located in reference to the dump opening? Can I see a spigot tower that is painted red?

    applications of Google Earth showing rinse and potable water
    Rinse water and potable water are available at this dump station
  • See if there is potable water available to refill a fresh water tank. Where is it located? Can I see a spigot tower that is painted blue? Actually seeing the colors is one of the very useful applications of Google Earth.
  • Big rig owners concerned about access can use the ruler function found under tools or the scale at the bottom left corner to determine the length and width of the dump station area.

Which direction does the ground slope?

  • Use the elevation feature to determine which direction the ground slopes, if any, in reference to the dump opening. Will my tanks be able to fully drain? What direction will waste flow if I accidentally spill? Is there an apron to contain it?

    showing slope
    Using the elevation feature, you can determine the ground slopes away nearly a foot from this dump opening. Note the spillage the has run down hill away from the dump. Yuck!
  • See if the dump station is located on a loop drive. Which side of the loop is the dump located on? Is the loop long enough and straight enough to allow me to align my termination outlet with the dump opening?

Be prepared for tail swing with Google Earth

  • Determine if there are any potential issues with tail swing accessing/departing the dump station.
  • Look for blue circles which indicate there is a user-submitted photo which can be viewed. Left clicking on the circle will open the photo which may provide additional visual information on the dump station or facility it is located in.
  • Tip: Use historical imagery at the bottom left of the screen to view earlier satellite imagery which may provide a better image of the dump station as shade or shadows might have obscured it in the current photo. Historical imagery is one of many useful applications of Google Earth.

    applications of Google Earth
    Use historical image to get a good look at this otherwise shaded dump station and the scale to determine if the loop can accommodate your RV

Note:  With the exception of historical imagery, blue circles and elevation on Google Maps can also be employed for most of the above applications.

By knowing the exact location and details of a dump station in advance, you can: confidently drive your RV onto the property, navigate directly to the dump station, enter in the correct direction of travel, dump and rinse. Those watching will think you have been there many times before. Only you will know otherwise.

Finding and previewing dump stations is a one of the many applications of Google Earth. Try it for yourself.



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1 year ago

Hmm, do not trust this function and just go , expecting to find a dump station. It’s not reliable. Did not show Dump Stations that I know are there and shows many gas stations that I know do not have dump stations. Article is misleading. Call before you go to verify.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago
Reply to  Robbie

I just tried to use Google Earth to check this out. Sketchy at best. Like Robbie, I looked for known dump sites and couldn’t find them. I guess they are not advertised dumps. We found them by accident the first time we used them. I guess the secret might be – don’t wait to find a dump station until stuff is backing up in the lav. Leave yourself some time to look.

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