How Long Can You Stay in a Campground?

Updated on January 23, 2019
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.

Many, but not all, camping facilities in the US have maximum limits for the amount of time that travelers can stay. Each sets its own rules, and it is up to vacationers to make sure they know them prior to seeking out campsites. People who don't take the time to do this can be in for some disappointments.

Most travelers only use campgrounds for vacationing on an “as you go” basis or for very short-term visits. For them, stay limits are rarely a problem, except under unique circumstances.

However, those wishing to visit for longer periods of time in specific facilities may not be able to do so, especially if they wish to go there when special events are taking place.

My husband and I learned, to our dismay, that during the period of time we had planned to camp at the Kentucky Horse Park, it would be closed to visitors due to a special event they were having. Furthermore, they required reservations and had a maximum 14-day stay limit.

If we had not done some internet research, we would have arrived at the park and been turned away, meaning we would have driven out of our way for nothing. This is just one example of why it is a smart move to get the details about camping facilities ahead of time when you are planning your vacation.

Not all RV Parks allow people to stay  for as long as they wish.
Not all RV Parks allow people to stay for as long as they wish. | Source

Do All Parks Have Stay Limits?

Not all RV Parks and campgrounds limit the amount of time people can stay in them, but many do, and they have good reasons for this.

For example, parks in popular and highly populated areas like to limit the number of days campers can visit so that more people have an opportunity to take advantage of benefits such as being close to special events or tourist venues. They can afford to do this because of the large number of people who want to camp there.

Other types of facilities, such as small mom-and-pop parks located in small towns, are much more liberal. They'll let you stay as long as you like because they need the income.

Below, you will find some general information about a variety of park types that will help to guide you in your vacation planning.

Destination Venues

Destination sites are those that cater to vacationers who want to spend a week or so in one spot with their families without having to worry about driving outside of the park for their entertainment.

Most limit stays because they do not want to become places where people start living rather than vacationing. Generally, they do this by imposing high prices. They want to retain a resort atmosphere, and usually they cater to families with young children.

The KOA near Mt. Rushmore, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, is a perfect example of a destination campground. This park charges high fees but offers free pancake breakfasts, a water slide, a swimming pool, several camp stores, a few fast food shops, bike rentals, hiking trails, nightly entertainment, free evening transportation to and from Mt. Rushmore and horseback riding. People can stay there in recreational vehicles as well as tents, or, if they prefer, they can reserve spots in the main lodge or one of several rental cabins.

It is a great spot for parents with young children because the adults can relax knowing that their children are safe and will be kept busy with many different types of activities. Usually, families stay at this park for a week or less and are willing to pay more to do so because of the comfort and safety this park offers.

Membership Parks

Reviews of the Most Popular Discount Camping Clubs introduces you to venues that impose numerous types of stay limitations on travelers. Many can save you money, but when using them to make vacation plans, you have to tread carefully if you want to reap their financial benefits. The article explains their guidelines in detail, so make sure to take a look at it.

All of them require limitations on camping, but some are more generous than others. It is very important to understand their rules in order to take advantage of their lower costs.

For example, Passport America allows half-price camping at more than 1,900 member parks, but many of them limit the number of days, days of the week or even seasons of the year when people can use their memberships.

Special-Event Parks

These facilities earn the majority of their income when popular events take place in their general geographic location. They often will allow unlimited stays at other times, but will be very clear with visitors about the fact that if they wish to remain during an event, they will have to pay more than the standard fees.

They want their campers to feel as though they are on vacation and not just visiting in a full-timer community. Campgrounds located in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, area, for example, double their rates during their well known Balloon Fiesta.

Free Campsites

Scattered around the US are a fair number of places that charge nothing for visits, even though many of them have partial or full hookups. All impose stay limits, but they can vary greatly from one spot to the next.

These spots offer free campsites with the hopes that those who take advantage of them will also spend tourist dollars in their towns. However, they want to make sure that all travelers have an equal opportunity to enjoy their generosity.

One of the best is Santa Fe Park, which is located in Chanute, KS. People can stay for as long as 48 hours at no charge and enjoy 50-amp electric, water and a dump station along with a swimming lake, a golf course and hiking trails. This particular campground is located within walking distance of a Walmart, which makes it convenient for picking up groceries and sundries during visits.

The Best Ways to Save Big Time on RV Camping Costs gives you information about other free and reduced-price campsites, so if you want to save some money, it's worth reading.

National Park campgrounds always limit visits so that more people to be able to enjoy them.
National Park campgrounds always limit visits so that more people to be able to enjoy them. | Source

Government Parks

All government-run facilities limit the number of days people can stay in them. If they did not do this, it would be easy for some to decide to live in them full time, which is not in keeping with the type of experience they want people to have.

These places want as many people as possible to be able to visit them and then move on, so that there will be openings for other campers who will then be able to enjoy themselves as well.

Yellowstone National Park, for example, limits stays to 14 days or less. If you want to know more, you can read RVing in the 4 Most Popular National Parks.

These facilities, owned and run by various levels of government, differ vastly in what they offer. Some provide nothing more than a place to park your RV, while others offer water, electric and dump stations.

Their prices can also be quite different from one another. Some ask as little as $6 per night, while others charge $20 and up. Therefore it pays to do some research before deciding which ones you wish to visit.

Other Venues

Other venues offer a variety of lot rental packages from which travelers can choose. Just about all of them, room permitting, will allow overnight, weekly, monthly, three-month, six-month and year-round visits. This type of stay schedule is typical of most campgrounds nationwide.

For example, there are many "mom and pop" parks scattered around the country that are very liberal when it comes to stay limits. You will find them located mostly in small, out of the way areas.

These exist in every town, and many offer great camping facilities. Nonetheless, you should check your camping guide, or call ahead to make sure they offer what you need.

Do Research Beforehand

It is difficult to find this type of information without using a campground guide such as the one published by the Good Sam Club.

This is the first resource I turn to when I need to find information about how long my husband and I may be able to stay at any given park because it provides up to date contact information that allows me to call or email parks as I do my planning. It also includes stay limit information where appropriate and even shows you where you can find an RV repair shop, if needed!

I've been using this guide for years because it is the least expensive guide on the market but also the most comprehensive.

I do this type of research because I want to make sure that when my husband and I arrive at a campground there will be a space for us, and we'll know how long we'll be able to stay in it!.

Every day camping facilities offer a wide variety of ways to visit them.
Every day camping facilities offer a wide variety of ways to visit them. | Source

Choose Well, and Stay Long

As you can see, there is a wide variety of visitation options available for people who travel in recreational vehicles.

When someone asks, "How long can I stay in a campground?", the answer always has to be, "As long as you like", and as long as you go to the right places at appropriate times of the year.

Did this article make you feel better about the variety of stay options that are available to RV travelers?

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Questions & Answers

  • How does one find the actual living sq ft in an RV?

    Take a long tape measure and figure out the length in inches from the interior front of your unit to the interior rear and then do the same for the width with the slides closed. Multiply one by the other and divide by 12 to get the square footage. Then do the same for each slide and add those figures to the first batch.

© 2014 Sondra Rochelle


Submit a Comment
  • TIMETRAVELER2 profile imageAUTHOR

    Sondra Rochelle 

    3 years ago from USA

    Karen Hellier: Again, you're certainly welcome. I've been at this a long time, so have learned a great deal...some of it the hard way lol! Hopefully my hubs can keep people from having some of the problems I've encountered over the years!

  • Karen Hellier profile image

    Karen Hellier 

    3 years ago from Georgia

    I hope to someday purchase an RV and I really enjoy your articles about the RV way of life. Thanks so much for sharing this information.


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