Campground Etiquette

At one time or another, we all were newbie campers learning the ropes about RV camping etiquette. We all can remember the first time we rolled into a campground with our van full of kids pulling the RV, thinking, what have we gotten ourselves into? How do you set up the RV? What are appropriate noise and quiet times? How do you dispose of wastewater? So many questions and not a lot of answers.

Campsite Rules

The first and golden rule of RV etiquette is to respect other campers' sites. When we book a place, we are renting that space, and crossing through other people's sites is not respectful. It’s rude and invasive of others' personal space. We taught the kids that they were not allowed to walk, run, or bike through other sites.

Lights Out

If you like to camp because it is a place you can go that is dark and quiet, where you can connect with nature. There is nothing more annoying when camping than having someone leave their outside lights on the whole night. It is hard to do that when your neighboring RVer leaves their bright blue lights shining into your bedroom window.

Pro-tip: Create a nighttime checklist and ensure your front cap lights, running lights, and string lights are turned off.

Campfire Safety

Don’t move firewood or bring it from home. We see signs about it everywhere we go, so make sure you buy your wood locally. Wood brought in from outside each specific camp area can spread disease to local flora and fauna with invasive, non-native pests. They could kill trees or impact the local ecosystem.

It is also vital to fully extinguish your campfire before going to bed for the night. Even if the fire has been reduced to embers and looks out, you should completely douse the fire rings contents. Everything, logs and ashes, in your fire ring should be cold to the touch.

Dumping Your Waste

Oh, the dreaded waste dump. We all have to do it before we leave the campground. When we dump at our full hook-up campsite, we ensure our waste connections are appropriately inserted and ready before we open our tanks. It is poor etiquette to leave behind black tank waste at your site, so inspect before releasing it.

When using the dump station, it is important to make sure all connections are secure before opening your tanks. After you are done, make sure to take all debris and trash with you to a trash receptacle. Don’t leave behind anything.

Respect Quiet Hours

Every campground has different quiet hours and rules. Make sure you read these and adhere to them. We all love to sit around the campfire at night and wind down; just do it in a quiet way that doesn't affect your neighbor trying to sleep.

We stayed in Acadia National Park in Maine one year, and someone named “Frank” came into the campground after midnight. His trailer hitch was squealing in protest, and his wife, who was trying to get him into the site, was yelling, “No Fraaaaaaank! Go to the left….the left!” It was memorable but disrespectful. Arrive before quiet time if possible and if you can’t use walkie-talkies or cellphones to get your rig parked as quietly as possible.

Pet Owner Etiquette Tips

We all love to travel with our best friends, and Rover is no exception. Make sure you book a pet-friendly campsite when making your reservation and plan ahead to take the things you need for your pet.

Once you are at your destination, make sure Fido follows the rules. They might like running around without a leash, but the general rule of thumb is that your pet should be kept on a leash while in public spaces. While you love your pet, not everyone else does.

Don’t let your dog bark excessively! Erratic barking raises concerns that there could be something wrong while it is just your barking buddy letting the world know he is there.

And the rule of all rules for campground etiquette with pets is to clean up their poo when they leave a pile. There is nothing worse than walking in a campsite and your foot finding a squishy mess.

Leave Your Site Clean

If you are a lean camper and do not bring a lot of stuff with you, but even while being a minimalist, there is still trash and things around our site.

  • Keep your site clean while staying at the campground
  • Properly dispose of wastewater, food, and grease. If you don’t, those pesky critters will be in your area all night eating leftovers that could make them sick and “trashing” the camp like the gorillas in Tarzan.
  • Pick up all trash around your site and dispose of it properly.
  • Don’t burn trash in the fire ring, and ensure the fire is out before leaving.
  • Walk your site and inspect it before pulling out to go home.

We have taught our kids in life that you should treat people how you want to be treated. If you are unsure if something you are doing is “in bad camping taste,” ask yourself if what you are doing would bother you or your momma. If you are still unsure about something, ask the office or the camp host what they think. The RV community is usually friendly, and everyone is happy to help.

This article is written by Brandy Gleason, owner of a Heartland Sundance 294BH and author of Gleason Family Adventure.