It doesn’t get any cozier than reaching a great campground after a day of cross country driving in your Newmar. Let’s say you’ve found the perfect site with a view of the lake, a sturdy table, and a large fire pit. You’re ready for an evening of roasted marshmallows and campfire stories.
Of course, you won’t get very far if you can’t park and level your RV.
Let’s face it. Parking an RV—especially a Class A—can feel like daunting. Especially if the site you’ve reserved is less than level, which is just about every campsite out there.
What to do? Continue reading this guide for a full breakdown on parking an RV like a champ.
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Many campsites are designed for smaller vehicles. Their dimensions can prove a challenge when it comes to squeezing your 30-plus-foot long motorhome into place. How can you make your life a little easier?
Start by verifying that your RV can fit the campsite. That means avoiding hairpin turns and tight squeezes that leave you white-knuckling the steering wheel. Make sure you factor in prominent trees and boulders, too.
While some campsites post caution signs warning drivers of longer rigs, don’t expect this courtesy. If you don’t see such warnings, but you’ve got an uneasy feeling about the spot you’re trying to ease into, speak to campground management directly.
When you’re booking online, look for campgrounds that post details about each site. These often include the length of the site, which will help you know before you go whether or not you can fit.
Make sure that the spot you’ve reserved is also capable of accommodating both your RV and trailer, if you have one. You don’t want anything sticking out into the road. The best sites contain information about low-hanging branches and other obstructions to avoid, so check out all the details.
No matter what your reservation says, do your due diligence upon arrival. That means getting out and having a look around the campsite. Watch out for any terrain or objects that could pose a threat to your vehicle.
These include features such as roadside markers, drainage ditches, posts, low-hanging branches, and power and water hookups. Besides making sure you don’t hit any of these objects, make sure they don’t obstruct your ability to use your slide outs.
Watch out for low spots, too. That way, you know what to avoid in terms of topography.
Once you’ve gained some familiarity with the campsite, ask one of your passengers to get out and guide you. Remember that no matter how skilled you feel, parking will progress much more smoothly with an external pair of eyes on your vehicle.
After all, the last thing you want to do is dent up your motorhome on a picnic table or rock. Your parking assistant can also help you get the rig straight while ensuring that you’re entirely in the road.
For the most comfortable parking experience, we suggest bringing along a two-way radio. That way, you and your assistant can communicate back and forth with ease.
Bear in mind where your campsite’s dumpsite is located for ease of access when leaving the campground.
Now that you’ve made it into your parking spot, let’s talk leveling your motorhome.
Why do you need to level your RV? Because it impacts many aspects of your RV’s functionality, from refrigerator operation to safely sliding out your extension(s). Of course, you also want to guarantee that your rig isn’t swaying back and forth every time you move around inside.
And there’s nothing worse than feeling seasick because you haven’t leveled out, and your motorhome is moving in the wind throughout the night.
So, how do you level a motorhome? That depends on your vehicle’s make and model.
A Newmar coach comes with an automatic leveling system. This means it can level at the touch of a button—saving a ton of fiddling, tweaking, and headaches.
What if your rig doesn’t come with all the leveling bells and whistles? Then, you’ll need to rely on leveling ramps, blocks, and a small bubble level to get stabilized and even. These RV leveling ramps or blocks don’t need to cost an arm and a leg, though.
But you will need your helper to get out and watch the bubble level while you maneuver the RV onto the ramps or RV blocks. Once you’re done leveling an RV, have your helper place wheel chocks in front or behind the wheels for added safety and stability.
Once you’ve got your vehicle level, it’s time to stabilize it. You can use stabilizing jacks to do this. They come in a variety of configurations.
The most common are scissor jacks. They’re usually welded or bolted to the trailer’s frame at the rear or front.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
You may wish to save some time and provide a better footing for each jack by sliding a 2×4-inch board beneath each one. Once in place, give the crank a few extra turns to ensure a secure foundation.
Now you’ve got the basics when it comes to parking an RV. We’ve also discussed scoping out campsites and the fine art of leveling an RV and then stabilizing it.
Staying at designated campsites with RV access represents your safest and most comfortable option. In a pinch, you can often get away with parking and sleeping at a Walmart, Flying J Truck Stop, Cabela’s, or a local Costco or Sam’s Club.
As for boondocking in urban areas? Social media has put a serious kibosh on this, so stick with box stores or casinos that welcome RVs.
What’s more, there are plenty of excellent resources available to travelers looking for the best RV resorts. Click here to check out one of our favorite guides on 2020 RV-friendly accommodations across the lower 48.