RV site.. or tent site?

Discussion in 'Reservation Systems' started by Patrick w, Sep 9, 2021.

  1. Patrick w

    Patrick w Active Member

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    I get a little confused sometimes when the campsites let you choose between an RV site.. or a tent site. If I don't want hookups, do I just choose the tent site? my pup is super tiny. Like 10 foot length.
     
  2. tfischer

    tfischer A bad day camping beats a good day at the office

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    Honestly it depends on the campground, but I would say more often than not, a "tent site" is just that... a site intended for a tent, and often you're not allowed to pull a vehicle on it (other than possibly just off the road. Usually RV sites without services are called "primitive" sites or simply just "no hookups"

    In short, best to contact the campground if you're not sure.
     
  3. happybooker1

    happybooker1 Member

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    In Texas State Parks, tent sites may be walkable to and 50' or more off the road/parking site. RV sites can come with full hook ups. You're right -- it IS very confusing. I don't need sewer hook ups but water and electricity are nice. Usually I have to choose RV sites, then eliminate sewer, if possible.
     
  4. Patrick w

    Patrick w Active Member

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    Some have been really tight, even with a tiny pup, they barely give you enough room for a single tent. At least they have been better about posting pics. Helps a lot in the decision making
     
  5. ccarley

    ccarley Active Member

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    I recall that our local KOA had some tent-only sites (KOA "San Francisco", in reality it's in Petaluma CA). We had just got our first Starcraft on the road, and didn't realize when we made the reservations that we would be using it (and camping with some friends). I got something like 2 or 3 sites and at the time... KOA let us set up in the "tent" site because we didn't want/need hookups. I don't think that's the case anymore around here though. Tent sites are tent sites, RV sites are RV sites. No tires off the pavement in a lot of the campgrounds around here.

    Like mentioned above, I've noticed that a lot of campgrounds will have tent sites that are adjacent to a parking lot. You park in the lot and "hike" in your stuff along a walking path. It might only be 20 yards to walk, but you wouldn't get a pop up in there for sure. Better to just get an RV site. Typically around here you can either specify if you want a site with or without hookups, but the good places to camp have no hookups.

    Clay
     
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  6. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    It depends. :)

    I don't camp at places with hookups so when they say "tent site" they often just mean the parking pad is smaller. Some places (Yellowstone) are sticklers, some say "if you fit". (There are few of the "walk-up" tent sites that I've seen out west but the ones that exist are usually labeled as such.) Some say "tents only" because the road in is so contorted that large vehicles or trailers might get stuck.

    But most places I prefer to go to (at least before the pandemic made occupancy unpredictable and reservations more desirable) don't have reservations or designated tent spots. You go and see where you fit.
     
  7. davido

    davido Well-Known Member

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    Tent sites often have the tent pads that are set back from the parking area, and the picnic table, campfire ring, and grill will also be set back from the parking area. If you find a tent site that allows for setting up your popup, you would possibly expect to be camping in a parking lot at worst, or in an in-site parking spot with set-back table and ring. Additionally, at a tent only site you may find room only for your tow vehicle OR your trailer, but not both.

    Unless you have spoken with the campground operators to find out what to expect at the site you are reserving, you should not reserve tent sites for popup camping. The result can range from having nowhere to actually set up your popup, or setting it up kind of far from the rest of the campsite, or you may find it's just fine. But you won't know until you've seen the site or talked to the operator.

    An RV site is pretty much guaranteed to work for a popup.

    It's not just about hookups. If I think about, for example, the Spruces campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Wasatch National Forest, the tent only sites frequently have communal parking. They frequently are set back from the parking 50 feet or more. And some of them wouldn't even have room in the parking for a popup to be extended.

    On the other hand, the RV sites at Spruces have room for the trailer and a tow vehicle, sometimes two vehicles. The site amenities such as picnic table, fire pit, and grill are usually relatively close to the RV pad, too. Neither the RV sites nor the tent sites at Spruces have hookups of any kind. Water is communal, even. So it's not about the hookups, it's just a matter of campsite layout.

    At another campground I go to sometimes, Virgin River Resort & Campground near Zion National Park, the tent-only sites have communal parking and a grassy area to set up tents. They don't have anywhere to set up an RV, and if you showed up with an RV you would be turned away. At the RV sites you get full hookups, an RV pad, tow vehicle parking, table, fire pit, gril, and so on. So at that type of campground you better choose correctly or you're not going to be staying with them.
     
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  8. tfischer

    tfischer A bad day camping beats a good day at the office

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    I should also note that Google Satellite view is your friend. Unless the CG is heavily forested, you can look for yourself at the site and see if it seems suitable. This also goes for reservation sites that have photos of the campsites, and also places such as campsitephotos.com. If you see a big gravel parking pad next to the picnic table/fire ring, chances are you could camp there. But again, it's best to call and see.
     
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  9. RonDad

    RonDad Active Member

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    Found more than a few campground “reviews” or “tours” on YouTube as well.

    But to everyone else’s point- it really does depend on the reservation system and the person putting that info into it. No consistent “rule” in this.
     
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  10. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    As others have said, it does depend on the campground, including the type, whether privately owned or one of the public type (national and state parks, USFS, etc.). In some places, there are tent only loops, where any form of RV - van, popup, etc, no matter how tiny, is not allowed. Other have walk-in tent sites, so parking is just the size of a vehicle, and may be grouped like a parking lot. We were in one campground that provided carts to haul tents and supplies from the parking area to the tent-only sites. Often, if a site is designated as "tent" the parking area is small enough that there isn't room to have a popup or such in it, rather than a popup being prohibited.
    We have depended on descriptions on the reservation sites, campsitephotos.com (if the place we want is on that), satellite maps, and such to determine if a site is suitable for our current equipment. Sometimes, the parking area length is listed in the description - on recreation.gov and reserveamerica.com, it can take some work to get to the level where the site description is. As we moved from tiny popup to small popup and to our small TT, we had to gradually adjust the length of sites we reserved; even the change from the 4Runner as tow vehicle to our Silverado 1500 has made a bit of difference, since it's about 2' longer than the 4Runner.
    We learned we needed to now the length of both the vehicle and the trailer. With the popups, we sometimes could get away with a slightly shorter back-in site than our total open length + vehicle (+ space to walk between the two), but being able to hang over a parking bumper or such with the rear bunk wasn't a sure thing.
    I have learned to add a couple of feet to the actual length of the camper (opened for popups) when reserving in places where sites are assigned, such as KOAs. They often seem to place you in as short a site as possible. I learned early on to add 2', when I got into a site and had barely enough space to open the back gate on the 4Runner once the front bunk was opened, with the back of the pup at the back of the site.
    It isn't always about hookups either, since many of the campgrounds we use don't have them.
     
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  11. Dingit

    Dingit Well-Known Member

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    ...beware the fisheye lenses sometimes used to depict campsites.
     
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  12. brettstoner

    brettstoner Active Member

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    Most the tent sites around here are walk-in. You park in a lot and hike to the campsite or an open field. I would not reserve a tent site for a popup.
     
  13. ChrisS_NC

    ChrisS_NC New Member

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    We spent more than a year on in our camper full-time, stayed in 172 campgrounds across 32 states. I can now definatively say that a Tent site is just that, it is intended for a tent. A pop-up is an RV whether you like it or not. So, if in doubt you should call the campground directly to make sure. You may just have to pay for that full-hookup site even though you don't need everything.
     
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  14. netslacker

    netslacker Member

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    Our favorite campground describes the acceptable equipment at each site. They will say the site is “double width” (which means two cars can park side by side) and then they will tell you the length (40 feet long) which can accommodate one rv up to 30’ long with slide and one tent or two tents up to 30’ in length.

    The tent sites are just that, only tents permitted. They may accommodate trunk camping or they may be walk-in but no towed or drivable campers permitted.
     
  15. Patrick w

    Patrick w Active Member

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    My pop up is 10ft long, by about 5 ft wide. When open it's 10 ft long by 1 ft wide. That's with the trailer tongue. It's actually a smaller foot print than my portable gazebo thing. if I can fit a tent and a car, I can fit this and a car.
    I don't need hookups. It's a nice convenience but not necessary. In the winter the electricity might be nice though for space heaters instead of burning fuel
     
  16. Shormans Pup

    Shormans Pup New Member

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    I just got back from an rv site at a KOA in cali. Camping with friends who have a bigish RV, and us with our little 80s PuP that has only electric. It was significantly more expensive to pay for full hook ups- which we did not need. And since all the big RVs have bathrooms inside we had to hike quite a ways to do our business. Fun to camp with friends but I prefer a tent and primitive rv mixed site where I can spin my pup sideways (its very light) so our door faces the fireplace. The big koa rv lots are often like parking lots! Expensive overkill for our little PuP.
     
  17. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    We did like being able to rotate our first popup, which was a tiny, 6' box, one bunk end, 1984 Palomino. It didn't limit our choices of campsites as much as the second, 8', popup, nor our current 17' TT. However, on occasion, it was very nice to have sites with power for either, to run fans or a space heater. A few times, it was nice to have a water source in the campsite. That's why we learned not to rule out W/E or FHU sites, if the campground location was where we wanted to be. BTW, KOAs vary a lot, some are parking lots, others have pretty good separation, just depends. We still mostly dry camp, but have learned to be flexible.

    @Patrick w - yes, we learned that having power in cold weather was very handy. Our first popup had no furnace, so a space heater and electric mattress pad were very nice on the Thanksgiving trip when the weather turned and the lows hit the teens.

    We were known to use power even when we were ground tenting, if the site had it. We once went camping in early December, and used the power to run lights and an electric blanket in the tent. Not really our idea of fun, the experiment (done so my husband could do some night bike riding training with a team for a long ago 24-hour race) was never repeated.
     
  18. RandyP

    RandyP New Member

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    When I designed campgrounds for Washington State Parks, we built "standard sites." A standard site was a dry site, with a full length parking space (50' + if terrain allowed), picnic table, fire ring, and space for a family sized tent. Water was carried from a community tap within a short distance, as spec'd by the health dept. If you add water, power, and/or sewer hookups at the site, you had a "utility site." Same overall footprint, but with more amenities, and higher priced. They have since changed to variable pricing that is site-specific, but provide good info on dimensions and site photos on their website. If you had an RV, from a PUP to a bus, you could use a standard site if you wanted to be self contained. Plus, you could toss the kids outside in a tent, if you like. If you had a tent, but wanted electricity, you could use a utility site. Not unusual to see a cord snaking through a tent door, especially during the winter. Washington has had state parks since 1913, so there are certainly some older parks with smaller spaces still in use. The campsite reservation system is your friend planning your trip.
     
  19. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

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    What happens to the other 4 ft when you open it?
     
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  20. Patrick w

    Patrick w Active Member

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    [CC] woops! I meant 10 ft wide. Not 1...
     

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