Top 10 RV Campground Rules

Cartoon image of family camping with green tree and music signs
Illustration by Bob McMahon

MotorHome’s Ultimate Guide to Proper Camping Manners

We’re sure you’ve been there, or perhaps you were one of the guilty ones: It’s late, you’re trying to relax or sleep after a long drive to your favorite RV park and someone pulls into the site next to you and cranks up their TV, shattering your tranquility. Campground etiquette can at times be subjective and flexible, but there are hard and fast rules by which every RVer should abide. And while the general cost of living gets higher, more people than ever are turning to RVing and camping as leisure activities, crowding already crowded RV parks and campgrounds.

The following 10 do nots are a guideline to campground manners.


I’m sure different campers’ No. 1 complaints vary, depending on whether you’re boondocking or staying at an RV park, but everyone has to agree that noise pollution in a quiet setting affects everyone. Whether staying at RV parks or primitive campgrounds, contributors of noise pollution can include partying too late, watching a sporting event like a NASCAR race on your TV at an ear-shattering volume, allowing your diesel to idle too long, barking dogs, loud children or firing up a generator at a less-than-timely hour. There’s a time to run your generator, but you need to be sensitive to your neighbors. No noise after quiet hours, please.


First come, first served. This cliché applies to RV park etiquette as well. If a site is marked, it is already occupied. It is never OK to set markers aside and move in. Just try to imagine if you drove long and hard to get to the park but then had to leave for a while to pick up supplies, only to come back and find someone else had moved in on your turf. Every RVer likes his or her site to face the river or ocean and stay at a site with a great view or close proximity to the park’s amenities, but if one is not available and you end up by the bathrooms or dump station, it’s no excuse to steal an absentee visitor’s enviable spot.


Let’s say you are relaxing outside with your family and are about to eat dinner while enjoying the peacefulness of the outdoors, or you are snuggling up to your significant other while enjoying a star-filled evening only to have a family of five come traipsing across your site with a surly dog in tow, destroying the serenity you were so thoroughly enjoying. Unless invited, never take a shortcut across another RVer’s site. A big part of RVing means getting away from it all, including you. Take the park’s established pathway as there is no rush. Also, keep your vehicles out of the roadway.


Unless they are in designated pet areas, your animals should always be on a leash when in an RV park or campground. For some, a howling animal, whether it’s wild or domestic, is like finger nails on a chalkboard. Most people love dogs, but there’s always someone who does not — especially if you don’t clean up after it.

Cartoon kids running with dog chasing them5. DON’T ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN TO RUN WILD

The same rules that apply to pets apply to children. And, once again, most people love children, but there are those who don’t and don’t want to hear them. But RV parks are a place for the family, and ensuring your children and grandchildren are well-behaved and supervised goes a long way.


Nobody will fault you for cleaning the bugs off your windshield or checking tire pressures in the morning, but your campsite is no place to break out the toolbox for some heavy wrenching. And if you must wash your RV, check with the park host to see if they have a space set aside for such excessive wetness. Nobody wants to camp in your mud.


Do you leave trash on your front lawn at home? Of course not, and neither should you at your site. (If you do maybe you should stay away from parks and campgrounds altogether.) A neat and orderly site is a must for you, your fellow RVers and Mother Nature. The great outdoors is a gift for all to enjoy, and polluting it is a crime. The next person to occupy your site, after having to set up their rig, does not want to clean up your mess — especially after a long day of driving. Always leave the campsite cleaner than you found it.


You should never leave items in a campfire or grill that do not burn and just end up as garbage, including bottles, aluminum cans, aluminum foil and cigarettes. Plastic bottles release toxins while burning and glass bottles can explode in a fire. if you smoke, always pick up your butts and put them in the trash. Also, bring your own firewood or buy it from the campground, most of which sell their own. Trees are our friends, so please try and save as many as humanly possible.


Although you are a happy camper and sound asleep, the light from your motorhome’s porch may be depriving your neighbors of sleep. Even if it’s unintentional, sleep-deprivation is a form of torture. A low-wattage lamp for safety is one thing, but many people are sensitive to light, so please be considerate.

Cartoon man smiling outside with purple pants on10. DON’T DUMP WASTE WATER ON THE GROUND

It seems like a no-brainer, but some people believe dumping is good for the grass; however, your dump water can contain contaminants that can be transferred to anyone that treads on tainted ground. It’s simple: Gray and black water belong only in a dump station. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to trod on someone else’s waste, so don’t make them trod on yours.

So that’s our list of top do nots while camping. With consistent campground etiquette and a little effort, you can make yours and your fellow RVers’ outdoor experiences more pleasant.

Click here to learn how to set up a campsite in 12 easy steps


  1. The WORST we’ve had to put up with lately is lights. RVers now seem to think everyone appreciates their outside lights, whether it’s strings of lights on their awning, or their front porch light left on all night. Only barking dogs and outdoor TVs rank up here with those lights shining in your windows all night.

  2. Uncontrolled kids! Late at nite, early in the am, in the pool and the hot tubs! Control your offspring people, my kid would never have gotten away with that! People cutting through campsites because they are too lazy to walk around.

  3. Don’t you have shades on your camper? People’s outside lights should have no effect on you. Don’t let your diesel idle to long and don’t wrench on your camper. Sometimes people have to do what is necessary for their equipment to hold up.

    The kids and animals, same difference, should be under control. The rest of the list is common sense and respect.

    Mostly this reads like a person that just needs to buy their own piece of land or lighten up.

  4. I guess we have been lucky have never really had any issues or problems with anyone else while camping. Hope it continues and our trips stay good and smooth. Had an issue with truck and camper one trip but that is about it.

  5. Thor sequence 20 L has a very annoying light under the body of the camper. It comes on everytime you open the door at night and stays on for 30 mins.
    I spoke with the factory and there is no way to turn it off or adjust the time.

  6. Keep in mind if you pick a site that has a trail to the lake, ocean or bathroom out the back of it, it is an established trail so you should expect others to use it. It’s not your personal trail. While we’re hosting we remind people all the time to expect people go to the trail. We also ask people to walk in between sites, not through the main plot of land.

  7. I’ve been an avid RV traveler and camper for over 50 years. I have had great experiences most of the time; I really had nothing to complain about with my fellow RV neighbors over the years. Unfortunately, within the last couple of years noise has become an issue while camping. With noise I mean LOUD “music”. It seems that more RV’s have customized sound systems that blast very loud horrible bass, for hours, and their owner’s are not approachable about turning it down. I don’t need to be cussed at and threatened by them because I politely asked for them to turn down their “music”. I’ve been bass blasted on 5 different occasions in the last 3 years on various campgrounds. I had to resort to complaining to the office staff and that wasn’t much help either. And then there were the camper’s who retaliated by smearing mud and other junk on my RV overnight. I believe that the etiquette in today’s society has really gone down the drain. Why can’t people be mindful of other’s peace and quiet when trying to get away from it all. I had such great camping experiences in the 70s, 80s, 90’s and into this decade. But the last few years it has gotten to the point where I feel like selling my RV and not dealing with the ever increasing entitled miscreants that have no manners in campgrounds anymore.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here