Friday, December 9, 2022


RV Shrink: Obnoxious “party animals” ruin state park stay


Dear RV Shrink:
We just spent a miserable night at Lost Dutchman State Park near Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a beautiful park, but obviously not well managed. It was a Saturday night. A party was raging in the site next to us. A family with young children and drunk adults, screaming profanities at the top of their voices. You could hear them all over the park, but we were unfortunately right next door. I think there are more volunteer host sites in the park than any park we have ever visited. We counted at least one volunteer per loop and some have two or more. 

With all this presence, not one of them came over to quiet the insanity going on next door to us. We simply closed up our windows and turned up the volume on our TV. It went on well into the night and early the next morning they were at it again. We just started this RV lifestyle. I hope this isn’t the norm. We have checked this park off of our list to revisit.

There is absolutely no way management could not have heard this band of obnoxious neighbors. We should have demanded our camping fee back, but we just cancelled our stay online and left in disgust. We didn’t retire to spend another minute micro-managing people that have little in the way of supervisory skills. The only other explanation is that Lost Dutchman State Park only hires volunteers with severe hearing loss. I didn’t write this as a question – it’s a warning to anyone thinking about spending time there. —Despondent in the Desert  

Dear Despondent:
I assure you this is not the norm, but it does happen on occasion. That’s why you live on wheels. I can’t give the volunteers in your park immunity. Although it is not their job to act as law enforcement, it is their job to contact park management. It will do no good to take the law into your own hands and confront rude neighbors, especially those that are alcohol-fueled. I could understand this response if it were a remote Forest Service campground, but not a state park with resident rangers and a corps of volunteers.

I understand your frustration, but you should have taken the time to at least put in a formal complaint. That might benefit future guests. It is not too late. You should write a short description of your experience at Lost Dutchman State Park and send it to their central office in Phoenix or to individual board members. 

We have been enjoying this lifestyle for many years and I can count on one hand the times we have experienced what you describe. I have seen individual campers vent their disgust with the troublemakers and it turned ugly quickly. That should not be your response. Always contact management. You are a paying customer.

Read park rules when you arrive and expect them to be applied to you and everyone around you. I just looked at Lost Dutchman State Park rules. I notice they are promising you, as a guest, quiet hours from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. It also says, “Prevent loud nuisance noises.” That sounds kind of lame. I would ask in your complaint letter what that means exactly. 

In the future you should have a reactionary plan. Personally, I would contact a volunteer in my loop. That would put them on notice and they would most likely contact management. I cannot believe there would be no chain-of-command in the park system. Usually volunteers go through a thorough vetting and training. There has to be a session in their training program on this very situation you describe, and a response method. 

I can’t stress enough not to get personally involved. Arizona is a permit-less carry state. No permit is required to carry a concealed firearm. Getting in a heated argument with a gun-toting drunk will only cause further problems. I even avoid people in the cereal aisle at the grocery store. 

It is not about being brave enough to confront this situation, it is about being smart enough not to.

The people you describe in your email are often not the sharpest tools in the shed. Treat them with caution. 

I once heard a guy, who was running his generator during quiet hours, arguing with the ranger. He said he had Second Amendment rights to run his generator anytime he wanted. I don’t think that’s correct. Benjamin Franklin died a year before the Second Amendment was ratified and he never did figure out how to hook a kite to a motorhome.

Have I ever mentioned before that there are 8 billion people on the planet? Sadly, there are just enough inconsiderate jerks in that number to ensure that all of us eventually get to deal with one of them.

It is not going to get any better. Most parks are over-used and under-budget. In cases like this it is “The Wild West.” Giving-in and moving-out might not sound like a fair solution, but your other choice is frustration and stress, both just the opposite of what you came out here to find. 

—Write that complaint letter, and Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink

Can’t get enough of the Shrink? Read his e-books, including Book 2 in his two-book series: Dr. R.V. Shrink: Everything you ever wanted to know about the RV Lifestyle but were afraid to ask or check out his other e-books.


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Mike Cornell
2 years ago

Not condoning what I did, but it was in the late eighties (meaning I was much younger!). My brother and I were tent camping and had rude partiers that were loud and obnoxious right next to us. When they finally shut up and went to bed (or passed out) it was around 2 am. We got around 4 hours sleep and hit the road early around 6am. Since we were on motorcycles, I thought it was only just to back my Harley with open pipes on it as close I could to their camper and let it “properly” warm up. When the camper started rocking and the door was about to open we put it in gear and rode on. Not sure I would do that in today’s world, but it sure did give us satisfaction that morning!

2 years ago

Saturday, CG, “partiers” are expected. However, drunk and disorderly partiers is an easy call to make to a Camp Host. Wait 10 minutes, then call authorities. Public intoxication shouldn’t be tolerated, in or out, of the CG.

Danny Evans
2 years ago

Great advice. As a relatively new RVer, it’s nice to read what can possibly happen and what to do.

2 years ago

I had the same issue of inconsiderate partying neighbors at one of the Arizona State Parks too, near the Lost Dutchman. I talked to the camp host who reminded me that she was not law enforcement and I asked her to call the ranger, she said she didn’t have the number. I did NOT attempt to discuss the noise with the neighbor, but filed a complaint in the parks office the next morning, as I was leaving.

Brian S. Holmes
2 years ago
Reply to  Kit

She was lying to you. This is what happens when you hire to many of them, nothing.

EG Willy
2 years ago

Good article, but not understanding the comments about guns and concealed carry.
Not everyone who owns and uses handguns is a misfit and wants to kill you. Most of us are trained and own them for personal protection. Yes, common sense prevails.

I always try and reason with folks like them first, Then go to management to have them issue the complaint again. Usually the next morning. I’ve only been threatened once doing this.

Of course, it depends on how drunk and out of control they are. Then call local PD or Sheriff.

Theresa Zemeckis
2 years ago

I live in Apache jct,and have noticed alot of noisey people, fireworks all the time make my dog cower.Whenever I choose a campsite, I drive through first and check the people out near my spot,or try to find one with no immediate neighbors.If something like that started, I would move,even down by the park entrance,and then call local law enforcement,or just stay near the entrance til morning,and file a complaint.

2 years ago

My husband and I have only been RV-ing for 9 months and so far we have been lucky never to have met any anti-social neighbours, this includes the Lost Dutchman State Park. We stayed there for 10 days in January 2020 and for us it came close to paradise, everyone respected the quiet hours and we didn’t see any trash around. The camping spots are large, especially the dry camping ones and they all have an awesome view on the Superstition Mountains. There are volunteers living in nearly every loop and if I saw or heard another camper causing problems I would have felt confident in talking to any of the volunteers. I found them very approachable and I would expect them to contact a ranger to deal with the situation. I agree it wouldn’t be wise to confront your nuisance neighbours yourself but at least tell a staff member before cancelling your reservation otherwise these people will just get away with it.

2 years ago
Reply to  Ann

Ann you make a great point. Regardless of the campsite, there is going to be rogues coming and going. The fact there’s nut bars among us and every once in awhile we have to endure one, two or more of them in no way should tarnish the campground they wrecked havoc in. After 50 years RV’ing believe me we’ve seen our share of idiots, and of them I say we try our best to avoid them but we certainly have not got a perfect record outrunning them. We like to land spots right next to the bosses place of residence if there is one or next to or near camp stewards site. That seems to work best. I can’t remember enduring a party of any magnitude while camping next to the authority.

2 years ago

We just experienced a similar problem at a RV park in Fredericksburg, TX where we were staying two weeks. A group of weekend warriors occupied the site next to us on a Friday night. They were outside until at least 2 AM playing corn hole, listening to music, yelling, using profanity, and racial slurs.

We, along with a number of other staying at the RV park, complained to management the next morning. The RV park kicked them out. The other 13 nights we stayed there were nice and quiet.

2 years ago

We’ve been camphosts many times and law enforcement usually goes home at 5, just like everyone else.

Steve S
2 years ago

I’ve had this happen to me. Bunch of drunks across from me partying all night. The next morning, I went to the park check-in office and complained. Demanded my money back.

The head Ranger was called to talk with me. When he showed up, I explained a 2nd time and demanded my money back. He said, he went by the site and all was quiet last night (Ranger’s truck lights can be seen a mile away, so they temporarily shut up).

I told him, what, you didn’t see all the beer bottles strewn around their site this morning?? I got my money back.

Rick & Sara Edgar
2 years ago

If you don’t report the problem you are part of the problem. Getting these people evicted is the only way they will hopefully learn this behavior isn’t going to be tolerated. Ranger or 911.

David Hagen
2 years ago

Arizona State Parks have armed rangers. I am wondering why the volunteer didn’t contact them.?+

Debbie PJ
2 years ago

I would have at least talked to Rangers in the morning, and waited to see how the next night was.

JBC Cripps
2 years ago

Oh, but it is the norm these days. There is no one who will confront the problem. Volunteer hosts make it clear that it is not part of their job to put their safety at risk. The host more often than not has no contact with any form of authority that can/should handle the situation. The problem is that people do not care about rules, that they are not alone, that their behavior is beyond callous and rude. If everyone respected the ‘quiet’ time policy that would be a very good step in the right direction. But it does not address the drunk, loud behavior, foul language and sense of threat they impose. The problem is that no one will hold these campers/RVers responsible. In most cities there is an ordinance for loud noise, unsafe behavior, etc. Why are campgrounds becoming an unsafe, unhappy, terrifying place to visit? And for those that think this is an ‘age’ related issue. Please – this is an issue that affects everyone. Take the group discussed in this concern and imagine how they would feel if you got up at 5AM and turned your music up loud, set a fire to cook breakfast where the smoke went directly into their open windows, you kids started racing around their RV playing tag very loudly, etc. Hmmmm, shoe is now on the other foot. It is all about perspective – which should be one of mutual respect. But then . . .

Bob Godfrey
2 years ago

I think I would have called the local law enforcement officer.

2 years ago

I disagree with the RV Shrink. In public parks this is becoming the norm. We only stay in private ones that are smaller and have active management. These places often charge more so it helps keep undesirables away. Also, there’s no reason the park host or management won’t mention who’s complained about someone’s behavior…so there goes your “discreet” complaint. Ask boon dockers why they boon dock- I’ll bet part of the answer has a lot to do with this article. In my state the governor has declared homelessness as the biggest issue we have and just spent most of a speech stating what he wants to do about it. This is probably off subject but I expect it to have consequences for campers as well.

Steve S
2 years ago
Reply to  Drew

Hi … this is exactly why I boondock. Plus, many of the boondocking spots I go to are far more scenic than the official parks are.

2 years ago

Being retired law enforcement, i agree with the author. Confronting them wld only cause more issues. If they had small children with them, it’s a real indicator of how they parent. Which in turn means they would have no problem showing their kids “how to handle this problem. ” Loud obnoxious people aren’t worth getting hurt over. Camp officials should have been informed. You did right by just walking away.

Roy Frazier
2 years ago

I would have probably had to leave early because of a holding tank problem!

2 years ago
Reply to  Roy Frazier

Haha, I see what you mean.