It’s Friday morning and you’re thinking about booking a weekend camping trip. All your regular sites are booked up, but there is a campsite that says RV only. Even after checking all other campgrounds in your area, the only site available is an RV only one. Can you pitch a tent in an RV spot?
Many national parks and state parks will not allow you to pitch a tent in an RV spot. More often than not, if you try to set up a tent in an RV only spot, you will be asked to move and ticketed if you don’t comply.
What About an RV Camp?
If you’re going to get the boot from a state park, what about an RV camp? Surely there must be some space for you to set up a tent there – right?
Unfortunately, at RV camps, the RVs are prioritized. This means that your little tent might be placed in a very small spot surrounded by a bunch of towering RV campers.
Do All RV Parks Allow Tent Camping? Here are the Rules
Even if you could camp in an RV spot, would you even enjoy your stay? There are so many reasons why it wouldn’t be worth it to camp in an RV park with a tent.
Loud and Crowded
RV camps are becoming increasingly loud and overwhelmingly crowded as more people purchase RVs to get away. Your tent’s thin walls won’t be able to drown out the noise of everyone around you like the walls of an RV would.
It’s not even the noise from other people you have to worry about, but the sound of vehicles and generators. People aren’t going to be able to go RV camping with a little car, so the park is going to be full of much louder trucks and vans.
The RV experience needs electricity, and some people will want to rely on their own sources, especially if the site is non-electric. Cue the noisy generators.
RVers won’t be bothered by the sounds of generators because they have thick insulated walls that stop the noise, but they also have their tv’s and entertainment inside to drown out any sound from the generators.
RV camps are typically more expensive than staying at a state park.
If you are RV camping, you are probably looking for a few basic necessities like sewage disposal, water, and electricity. But camping at an RV park has a few extra luxuries that you’ll pay for, even as a tent camper.
Internet: RVing is a luxury style camping, where it’s pretty common to bring all your electronic devices including smartphones, TVs, and even gaming consoles. If you bring these, you’ll not only need a good electrical source, but internet would also be a huge asset to have.
Luckily, some RV parks do have internet that you can connect to, similar to a hotel. When you check in, you’ll be given the internet password so you and your family can connect and catch up on your Netflix binge.
Pool: You might be lucky enough to camp somewhere that has a beach, but then you have to deal with fish, seaweed, and the all-time worst – sand.
There are many RV camps that have a pool where you won’t need to worry about the sand, seaweed, or fish. A well-maintained pool comes with extra costs though. The cost to put in a pool and chemically maintain it isn’t free.
Gym: RVs are great and have a lot of space, but they aren’t quite big enough to hold gym equipment. Not all of them at least.
This is why gym facilities are becoming very popular in RV camps. Being able to keep up with a workout schedule is very important to some people and having access to a gym won’t deter people from their travels.
But again, gym facilities aren’t cheap. The building and the equipment have to be paid for somehow, and it’s reflected in the admission fees to the RV camp.
Not the Camping Experience
If you’re packing up a tent, some hiking shoes, and a cooler full of food, you probably don’t want the party experience of an RV camp anyways.
Not that there is anything wrong with the RV scene, but most tent campers want the experience of spending a quiet night out in the woods, sitting around a campfire while children make smores.
Going to an RV campground isn’t going to give you the intimate experience that the majority of campers seek.
If you want to know what you can expect while camping, or how to get started, check out the complete guide to camping.
As a Last Resort
If there are no other options anywhere around you, you can always call your park as a last resort.
If you let the park know that there are no available tent sites, and the only available site is one for RV only, they might be willing to grant permission for you to use their site.
It’s important to call ahead and get permission before arriving at an RV site with your tent because they do have the right to tell you to leave. If you choose to ignore them, they can give you a fine for failing to comply.
Wrapping It Up
Without clear permission, you aren’t allowed to pitch a tent in an RV only spot. National and State parks have clear wording whether or not sites are for RVs only or if tents are allowed too so there is no miscommunication.
If a tent is found on an RV site you can be asked to take it down and move, or even leave the park.
The risk isn’t worth the reward in this case. Constantly being on edge during a camping trip is the opposite reason you would want to go camping in the first place.
Even if you were able to get into an RV camp, you probably wouldn’t want to because it would be more expensive, would be very crowded, and would be loud all the time.