I’ve been a full-time RV’er for 3+ years. One of the first things I realized on the road was that stumbling into an RV campground without knowing a few things about RV parks rates is a recipe for disaster.
That’s because RV parks rates fluctuate wildly around the country, around the seasons, and even around the whims of those wily campground owners.
So whether you’re a full-timer or a weekend warrior, you need an understanding of RV parks rates: what they average, how and why they fluctuate, and a game plan for how to save.
That’s what this article is all about. I’m going to take my years of experience camping all over the country to show you the nitty-gritty of RV parks rates and how to beat the often unbelievable prices these places can charge. Here goes…
Fun campspots like this can be had for free – if you know where to look…
What are average RV parks rates?
Wandr’ly Magazine put out this wonderful report along with a cool map showing average nightly rates at RV parks all over the U.S. Wandr’ly pooled thousands of rates to figure out the average nightly cost for parking your RV at campgrounds around the country. Their conclusion?
The national average private RV park rate is $38.50/night.
In my experience, the average price that Wandr’ly calculated is accurate. The lowest RV park rates I’ve seen are in the $15-20/night range while the highest nightly rates can be $100+/night at some RV Resorts.
This video also shares some great insight on the subject:
Let’s look at 3 real RV park rates that’ll show you how this can fluctuate:
- Park of the Sierras, Coarsegold, CA – $21/night. This is a smokin’ deal on an RV park that’s right outside Yosemite National Park. This park is run by Escapees so you do have to be an Escapees member to stay, but that costs just $39/year. You should be a member of Escapees anyway though because they are the best RV club on the planet and provide all kinds of amenities for RVers.Park of the Sierras is a great example of a terrific deal in the middle of a region that usually has much higher RV park rates. In fact, California is one of the most expensive states when it comes to campground prices.
- Grand Ol’ RV Resort, Nashville, TN – $32-34/night. This is an example of a terrific deal because most other RV parks rates in Nashville average $49+/night. It’s also one of the best-kept parks I’ve ever stayed at and they have live country bands all the time.The family that runs it will also take you in like kin and treat you to some wonderful Southern hospitality.
I surprised my wife with an anniversary dinner at Grand Ol’ RV Resort in Nashville. We enjoyed live music at the campground and the folks running the park were kind enough to set up this wonderful table for us!
- Bluewater Key RV Resort, Key West, FL – $112-$237/night. This is an example of an over-the-top resort, but these prices aren’t terribly uncommon down in the Keys and other parts of Florida. At Bluewater, you’ll be right by the ocean, have all the amenities like a gym, pool, and game room, and even have your own boat ramp.Luxury RV Resorts are places that provide a lot of amenities beyond a simple site to park your RV. That’s why luxury RV parks rates are some of the highest.
What makes RV parks rates high or low?
There are an array of factors that impact RV park rates. By knowing how to work with instead of against these factors, you can save a bundle.
- The Season: If an RV park is by a tourist attraction, popular city, or nice weather, its prices will likely go up during its high season. For example, RV parks rates skyrocket around Joshua Tree National Park during the height of the tourist season (Spring and Fall). However, if you plan your RV trip and camp just ahead of or behind the high times, you’ll save a ton.
I parked my rig near Joshua Tree in Early March – when prices were still low, the weather was perfect, and before the tourist hordes arrived en masse.
- Location: If you choose an RV park right on the beach in San Diego, you’re going to pay a bundle. If, on the other hand, you opt for an RV resort in the beautiful mountains right outside San Diego, you’ll pay a fraction of the rate and still have easy access to all San Diego has to offer.Moral of the story? Just like houses, apartments, and hotels, RV Parks rates fluctuate wildly depending on where the park is located.
- Amenities: Pools, clubhouses, mini-golf, hot tubs, etc… all these things cost money for an RV Park to put in and they pass those costs onto their RV parks rates.
- Full hookup or partial? Some RV parks rates look great until you realize they only have water and electric hookups. Without a sewer hookup, you’ll usually fill your tanks in 2-4 days and then have to hunt for a place to dump. Parks that don’t have sewer hookups will almost always have a central dump station on-site, but it is highly annoying to hook your rig back up to go dump.Staying at a park without sewer hookups can be a great way to get a reduced RV park rate – just be aware that it comes at a cost of convenience.
- Pets, number of people, and size of your rig: All three of these things can impact the RV parks rate you’ll pay. In my experience, however, traveling with 4 people or less and a small pet will not cost you extra. However, if you plan to have lots of people and animals in your rig, you may be charged an extra nightly fee.If you have a larger rig (over 44ft. usually), some parks will charge you more for a “premium” spot. You can also expect to pay more if your rig is pulling 50 Amps of electricity as opposed to the smaller 30 Amp plug. Check out this article on RV park etiquette for some additional insight on what to expect at RV parks.
Ways to save money on RV parks rates
Given the wild fluctuations in RV parks rates, it’s understandable to want to save some dough along the way. Here are some tips on how to do that:
- RV Memberships – Thousand Trails, Coast to Coast RV, and Resort Parks International are three examples or RV park networks where you’ll pay one set amount+annual maintenance fees to camp for free, or very low cost, within their network.Prices of memberships vary wildly. Thousand Trails is my favorite by far because you can pay as little as $70/month to get free camping at their 100+ campgrounds around the country.
- Discount Clubs – Clubs like Passport America or Escapees will get you massively discounted RV parks rates around the country.
Look closely and you’ll see our red truck+silver airstream parked at this beautiful RV Park in Mississippi. Their normal rate was $38/night, but we paid $17/night for this lakeside spot because we have a Passport America pass.
- Free overnight parking – As you RV from place to place, you’ll inevitably need overnight stopovers. If you want to avoid shelling out $40/night just to sleep at an RV park, you should use Harvest Hosts (15% off with our link) or Boondockers Welcome (10% off with our link and discount code UrRVLifestyle10OFF). These sites offer free overnight parking at wineries, farms, breweries and more.
My wife and I found free overnight RV parking near this wonderful cider mill in Kansas.
RV parks rates can be a tricky business, but if you arm yourself with an understanding of how they fluctuate and how to save, you’ll be able to create more wonderful RVing memories for less.
Headed out of Joshua Tree National Park