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Controversial Practices in the RV Park Industry

June 3, 2016
Myrtle Beach KOA

It has become more and more common for private RV parks to have rules about the age of your RV, the size of your RV or the length of your stay.  There are two sides to this coin.  One is the right for free enterprise to do what they think is best for their business.  This rule is fundamental to free market economy and Tripadvisor, Yelp and other rating services will ensure that “survival of the fittest” will decide which campgrounds will live and which will die.  The key is the right of the customer to be properly informed in advance.  One should not be expected to know that a campground has an arbitrary rule and that you will understand their interpretation of it before making a reservation.  This information should be clearly and fairly explained online, by the reservation staff and in their literature prior to the reservation process.

Age of RV or trailer

This is one of the most common forms of RV discrimination.  Typically an RV park sets a rule that no RV’s beyond a particular age are allowed to stay at their park.  This is typically to keep the “riff raff” out.  Imagine cousin Eddie from Christmas Vacation pulling into the site next to you.  They simply want to avoid a vacation destination becoming a “trailer park”.  The rule itself is somewhat arbitrary, typically any RV or trailer older than 10 years old would be refused service.  This is because age is the only quantitative value they can set for every customer.  However this does not allow for the old guy in your neighborhood who is outside every Saturday washing and waxing his 15 year old Winnebago which other than age itself, it looks brand new.  Or how about Airstreams?  Airstreams were made to last forever, and many have.  There is a huge industry of people who will rebuild 40 year old Airstreams into fantastic antiques with modern furnishings inside and some rebuilds look better than the units coming off the line today.    What makes this rule more complicated is often RV parks will make exceptions.  The problem is how do you know if you will be an exception until you arrive?  What if the stay is in the busy season and you are refused because the owner is having a bad day or does not like you.  That is their choice but you may be out of luck finding a replacement campsite in the area if it is during busy season.

Length of stay- Minimum stay

Many RV parks will set rules that discourage overnight stopovers and set minimum stays.   Many campgrounds have these rules in place and set a minimum stay to 2-3 nights on the weekends.  This does not recognize that many RV’rs start their long distance trips to the coast or to Florida on the weekend and need a place to stay Saturday night when they make their first stop after 8 hours of hard driving.  This rule is even more inconsistent due to the fact that in some cases you will be told during the reservation process online that a 1 night stay may be OK but live staff at the park will say that it is not.  The inverse is also possible by trying to reserve online and being refuesed but then calling the campground and them saying “no problem we will take your reservation anyway”.

Length of stay- Maximum stay

Many RV parks will set rules that discourage short term campers over seasonal campers.  For this reason they will often save the best spots for the long term visitors and will as an after thought save a few swampy spots in the back corner of the campground in case some weekenders or people on their way thru need a spot for the night.

Size of RV

Many RV parks will put the more expensive sites near all the amenities like the pool.  This is true of almost any RV park.  The problem with this is that some people with smaller rigs are willing to pay the extra money to have a premium site (that they do not really need) so they can have a better location, a paved pad to park on, a swing, a BBQ etc but are refused or moved to a less desirable site when they arrive to free up the premium site for a bigger rig.


There are a number of RV parks that will allow you to reserve a site well in advance, often 6 months to a year before your arrival.  They will allow you to book the stay, and pay a deposit for the whole amount at the time of booking but will not guarantee the price upon arrival.  You arrive at the campground to check in and the staff informs you that you owe more money.  You explain that you paid in full online, but they explain that when you booked  a year ago it was at last years rate, and the rate has since gone up, so you now owe additional money even though they took your money a year ago and have been making interest on it.

So should RV Parks be allowed to discriminate?  Sure they are allowed to, we live in a free market, what should be required is rules that force them to be honest, upfront and clear about the rules before you make a reservation.  These rules should be clearly stated during the reservation process in easy to understand language, not buried in some acceptable use policy on page 73 in 4 point font at the bottom of the confirmation email that you receive.  The Ontario Provincial Parks Reservation system for example has several check boxes that you must click on to Confirm various rules and policies as you go thru the checkout process for example they have wording similar to “I acknowledge that the site I have chosen is a Radio Free site”.  There is no reason why you could not have a similar “I acknowlege that if my RV is over 10 years I may be refused entry in the park”.  Lets not worry about the rights of the RV park owner vs the rights of the RV owner, lets just be honest and no one will get hurt.


From → RV Travel

  1. Thank you for this, I found this very informative. My husband and I want to fulltime at some point in the near future even though neither one of us has ever done anything like this, so these are great things to know before hand.

  2. We stayed in one park that had a rule that RV’s couldn’t be older than model year 2000 but they admitted this was just to keep out some of the derelict-ready for the graveyard RV’s out. I can understand that completely. People who don’t keep up their RV’s often times cause a nuisance. Hate to stereotype but that is the way it is.
    However, we much prefer government owned campgrounds when possible whether it be federal, state, county, or city. Much cheaper, much more space, and in nice settings.

    Good article and it needed to be said.

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