Wednesday, November 29, 2023



RV ghettos along the road

By Chuck Woodbury
Gail and I drove from Tyler to Kerrville, Texas, yesterday along mostly secondary highways. We passed through Waco on the way — the big city along the route.

Typical of what you find (file photo)

We saw at least 15 RV parks, all right along the road, the cheapest property. I wasn’t counting, but I’d guess a half dozen were nice, most fairly new. But the others were dumps, old places, populated with what appeared to be permanent residents. They were junky, with old, beat-up trailers and motorhomes, most with old cars and trucks out front. Weeds grew everywhere. Kids’ toys, tricycles were out front, and junk all around. Blue tarps covered or partially covered dozens of RVs. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to stay at any of those places. Go ahead, call me a snob. 

Often, older RVs, not in top shape, are home sweet home for somebody.

When you start talking about the shortage of RV parks in America able to handle the half-million RVs being built every year, these parks are counted. But, really, most RVers would not want to stay. The residents, I suspect, are there because they need to be, living on Social Security or welfare. They’re one step away from homelessness. For them, of course, that “one step away” is a giant one, as a roof over one’s head, with a bathroom and bed is far better than sleeping on the street. The word “recreation” simply does not have a place in describing how they live.

When the RV industry talks about the number of RV parks in America, these should not be included. They’re RV ghettos. 



Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Diane A. (@guest_17762)
5 years ago

RE: RV Ghettos
Having seen many of those “RV Ghettos” while traveling all over America I think that the problem comes from filthy people either running the park or lazy tennants not putting the effort in cleaning their RV.
Personnaly I don’t see any problem with less fortunate people living in their RV, I’m happy for them and their family having a roof over their head.
My grand mother always told us that being poor is no excuse for being filthy. I’m pretty sure that anyone, rich or poor, has water and soap in their RV.

JIM SMITH (@guest_17937)
5 years ago
Reply to  Diane A.

Your grand mother was right “being poor is no excuse for being filthy”. I have read all the comments below, some make sense and others are written by , well I won’t say, it’s not nice.
Some people cannot help being less fortunate and some cannot help being a little unkept. Growing up their was this one kid that was always dirty, not poor by any means, just never bathed regularly. That was the way he was raised thus he did not know any better.
I guess what I am trying to say is some people are pigs with money and some are pigs without money. And some cannot help it.
But, and a big BUT, not all these people in the ghetto campgrounds are thugs that you must fear. Most are god fearing trustworthy people that cannot or do not want want to live any differently.
I will always remember something my Grandma had hanging in her kitchen ” Do not judge a man until you walked a mile in his moccasins “.
God Bless and Merry Christmas to all

Denny wagaman (@guest_17735)
5 years ago

I am staying in a Camp Ground that used to be a dump. RV’s With blue tarps and broken down cars and trucks and trash. Never stayed there. Now that it has become a KOA the new owners have turned it around.

I am here to be close to family for the holidays.
I don’t blame CG’s that take on people that live ither and take care of their space and RV’s.

I am concerned about the people that did live there and what happened to them. They do need a decent place to live. I pray to God that they have found such a place.

Chris O'Byrne (@guest_17699)
5 years ago

That makes sense. Thank you for explaining that to me and with kindness.

Ron Haynes (@guest_17690)
5 years ago

I think Chuck is not disparaging these RV park owners but the definition of a rv campsite. These types of permeant sites should not be counted as available for camping.

RV Staff
5 years ago
Reply to  Ron Haynes

Exactly! Chuck is very empathetic to people in these situations. His point was that these parks shouldn’t be included in the total number of parks available for traveling RVers. Thanks, Ron! —Diane at

Peg (@guest_17689)
5 years ago

Almost every park we’ve stayed in had some “permanent “ residents. KOAs are the exceptions. Some of the permanent areas are kept neat and clean, others not so much. It’s a relatively cheap way to live especially if you’re transient. My neighbors brought in a fifth wheel for their daughter and grandkids to live in and hooked it up to their septic system. Not very roomy but warm and safe. They keep it neat. But we live in the country so there’s no CC&Rs to keep people from living in their RVs. Only felt unsafe in one park near St. Louis where traffic was in and out all night. Who knows what was going on.

Bob (@guest_17656)
5 years ago

Suggest a few articles on what it takes to actually build and operate a new RV park. Maybe some estimates on land cost, construction costs, required amenities. Return on investment being most important part.

Diane (@guest_17645)
5 years ago

On our recent trip back and forth across the country, this was this past summer so it was at the end of “peak season” and we were unsure what to expect. Turns out things worked out very well. On days we needed to “make time” we had the opportunity to stay at KOA’s and Good Sams which were easily found off the highways or wondering though some really interesting small town’s. Of course we found some campgrounds were not as good as other’s and the solution was to leave. We encountered beautiful state parks and the National Parks were as good as you could want in our experience. Nothing is perfect and no place is perfect. Look for things that you as a consumer fine acceptable or that you can deal with over night. Your neighbors around the campgrounds are a great resource as well I think that doing some planning is good things as well. Maybe, your common sense will be a good guide.

Chris O'Byrne (@guest_17624)
5 years ago

I’m saddened by the entitled, elitist attitude. While we’re at it, let’s start complaining about those dirty homeless people who are bringing down the value of our city parks, alleys, and underpasses. Let’s not forget those single mothers who can’t keep their children looking and acting exactly the way we want them to. How about a little compassion and ideas to help instead of complaining about people who are not as blessed as we are. Or are they?

squeakytiki (@guest_17636)
5 years ago
Reply to  Chris O'Byrne

Thank you. My thoughts exactly.

Tina GAllagher (@guest_17647)
5 years ago
Reply to  squeakytiki

Your comment is more eloquent than mine. While these parks could enact rules to get people to at least wash the exterior of their rigs, “older” RV’s should not be blasted just because they’re old. On a budget, it’s EXPENSIVE to paint, replace windows and so forth for any RV. You are right about belongings strewn about and trash. I’ve seen snobby, high-priced parks with trashier people than “poor” ones. there’s a variety of things that can be done to help these parks, and treating them like lepers isn’t it.

Solar Steve (@guest_17668)
5 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Woodbury

Nor should we refer to low income folks with disrespect. In reading park reviews, we see a number of users report fear of RV parks with “long term or permanant” residents. Yet these are usually friendly folks who gladly offer guidence about the local area to us “transcients” staying overnight. Very often they are folks following jobs in construction, petrolium etc, hard workers indeed.

Gene Bjerke (@guest_17614)
5 years ago

We stayed in a campground in Jackson, TN, that had a building labeled “Laundry,” but no bathroom. The laundry shack did have a small room with a bathtub. It was not a place we would normally seek out, but it was better than the ghetto we first went to and it did have cable. That is what interested us, since we were about to run into Hurricane Harvey. We stayed inside with the shades drawn and watched the Weather Channel most of the night, trying to see which way to jump to avoid torrential rains.

In the end, Harvey chased us across Tennessee until we got away in the Great Smoky Mountains (where we found a nice, NPS campground). Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

J French (@guest_17567)
5 years ago

My primary residence is in Louisiana which may be the “Home” of the RV Ghetto’s you describe since these are very numerous but very seldom advertised as campgrounds.
Almost every town has at least 1 & they are generally occupied by seasonal workers, longterm workers such as in the Casino’s, working widows too young with no kids to draw on husbands SS or permanent residents who work jobs in the lower income scale, not Welfare since these qualify for free or greatly supplemented housing.
However most of the non-resort, non-State or Federal campgrounds in Louisiana will also have a limited number of these which pays the bills during winter months which otherwise are only used for weekend tailgate parties.
The worst of them are private “parks” where someone with a few acres bought Fema trailers or older campers cheap setting up a migrant or just above homeless monthly rentals which may have a limited number of extra spaces rented out weekly at minimum.
Reason I know is I gave away my old TT to just such a working widow, set it up for her in a private small 12 space trailer park 4 years ago & have gone over doing repairs / annual maintenance on it since.
Before anyone replies – I do have an ulterior motive. She also stays a few nights a week in my primary residence when I am snowbirding at the house in Florida or at the condo on Isla de Mujeres in Mexico. That way I never return home to an empty house where thieves have backed up a moving van.

Chuck (@guest_17555)
5 years ago

I’m not understanding what I’m reading here. Why the complaining? A park owner choses to cater to a specific clientele and his park is full or almost full. You don’t like the park simply move on to another one. Economics 101 goes over supply and demand pretty well. Apparently there is a demand for these parks. I personally would not stay in one but then I won’t stay at a high class resort either. In fact my rig is a 2004 model and I’m remodeling a 1985 model so I couldn’t stay in a high class resort if I wanted to. I recall another poster on here a few weeks back whose solution to a problem he was discussing suggested the less fortunate scale down to a $400,000 unit. Really? We need to ask ourselves if we are becoming just a little snobbish in those expensive rigs that are really nothing more than a house on wheels. I would submit those people living in these “ghetto parks” as you call them are living the best they can and actually found a place to stay they can afford. Get off your high horses and learn the way real American operates. Everyone is not fortunate enough to buy $500,000 weekend retreats to exotic locations.

Bob Godfrey (@guest_17545)
5 years ago

We too have been in parks such as those mentioned in this article and I think one of the problems that contribute to the appearance of a park is the trend of parks today to not permit anyone to wash their vehicles. Although we own an 18 year old rig, we often get compliments at how good it looks for it’s age (can’t say that about me though) but it has become increasingly difficult to find a park that will allow one to “clean up their act” anymore. I used to wash (monthly) and wax (yearly) once we stayed for more than a couple of days somewhere but now I find I cannot get permission to clean up almost anywhere we stay which does nothing for the overall appearance of the park itself.

Larry (@guest_17540)
5 years ago

I stopped at one of those places once for an overnight stay. It was just as you described. But in addition the residents had extension cords running all over the place from the junction boxes, and these were not high quality heavy guage. A real fire hazard. It was late and I needed to sleep but was happy to pull out in the morning.

Alaska Traveler (@guest_17538)
5 years ago

We are full timers that travel back and forth around the states up to Alaska and back. We occasionally stop at the “RV Ghettos” if there is no other available. The only places we have a difficult time finding a place for the night is in West Texas due to oil workers and Alaska, due to summer everyone wants to be out and about! One delightful “RV Ghetto” was in Louisianna off I-10. The man that helped us into the space was Cajun. I kept him talking for 5 minutes and wished he’d stay longer. What a wonderful accent he had.

Joe Shamp (@guest_17516)
5 years ago

In addition, sites such as Good Sam, Woodall and Allstays should identify these places for what they are in their listings if they are going to list them at all. Maybe a different kind of rating system.

Dee (@guest_17385)
5 years ago

I totally agree with you Chuck! I have pulled into some of these places and after driving through pulled out and spent a night at Walmart rather then spend a night in one of these places. It is a very bad reflection to people who have never seen the area or need to stop between locations . I personally felt very unsafe!!

Neil...aka..neil (@guest_17529)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dee

Desperate times call for desperate action. RV park owners who let this happen to their business are the real parties who need lecturing. They’re just happy to have sites full year round coming as close to their business model as they can. In reality, decorum rules with expulsion consiquences can really motivate RVrs who have let the appearance and or upkeep of their own property as well as the property of the campground faulter, to bring it up to a minimum standard. Also, time limits on a at least a portion of the available sites can keep the year round “residents”to a minimum. Not to be insensitive to the homeless problems in this country, but maybe there’s a silver lining here. Maybe Uncle Sam can see the value in a campground type of a setup with electrical , water and sewer hookups and turn some unused federally owned property into a place of refuge for RVrs living on a fixed income.
Just a thought……

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.