Campground Etiquette: Camping Rules to Remember

Campground etiquette and simple courtesy seems to be a thing of the past. Some campers think that when they go camping at a campground or RV park, it’s a no-bars-held party atmosphere. But, we all have to remember, we aren’t the only ones who want to enjoy the outdoors and camping life. And that’s precisely why we all need to follow the campground rules by practicing good campground etiquette.

Always On Liberty Campground Etiquette
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Campground Etiquette: Camping Rules to Remember

Living in a sticks and bricks house where, properties may be spaced a little farther apart. However, campgrounds and RV park campsites are like being crammed in a sardine can; awning-to-awning while whispering to your neighbor ‘please pass the Grey Poupon’. Tight campsites can bring out the best and the worst in people. We all have our own vision of the camping experience.
In our sticks and bricks, we (collectively speaking)  could play our music a little bit louder, swear like sailors, or stink up your yard by cooking bad meatwe have to mind our manners a bit more while camping. But campground vibes are a whole ‘nother ball of wax. So, while I totally get that camping is supposed to be when and where you can let your hair down and enjoy the outdoors, we all still have to be respectful of our fellow campers. We hope you don’t mind us being candid at explaining why we need campground etiquette

Since there’s no such thing as an Emily Post Campground Etiquette book, we wrote our own camping guide to educate new campers and remind more seasoned campers the dos and don’ts of camping.

Scoop the poop!

We totally get that Fido and Fifi don’t poop on demand.  So, please take your puppy poop bags and clean up after your pets. Not only is it unsanitary and possible toxic to leave it,  but it’s just nasty to have to clean dog crap off of my shoes (and I don’t even own a dog!).

Never walk away from your dog’s crap thinking others won’t notice. Because we DO notice it (collective ‘we’).

Etiquette Campground - Scoop the Dog Poop

Leash your beasts

Appreciate the fact that not everyone likes or is going to like your dog, cat or even your fellow campers.  The campground rules stipulate ‘all pets should be kept on a leash’.

Pet owners are required to be in full control of their dog or cat. Even if your pet answers to voice command, the campground (and State) have leash laws for a reason; SAFETY. And please, don’t allow your pet to approach other campers or their pets saying ‘my dog is friendly’. Because their’s may not be up to meeting other dogs. (Have I mentioned that I absolutely loathe those retractable leashes?)

And this goes without saying, the campground rules will always state to never leave your pets outside unattended. Nor should they be tethered by anything other than what’s recommended for their strength and size.

Lastly, if you’re sending your child out to walk the dog, make certain they not only, control your pet but also clean up after them.

Check out our incredible list of cool camping gear for dogs and cats!

Camping Gear for Dogs and Cats

Yap! Woof! Ruff! Bark!

Dogs love to go camping! Or so we’ve heard…all of us! They love to voice their excitement but sometimes, it can be a little excessive, loud and irritating.

We understand they may be trained to show off their protective instinct by letting others know in their own way, “don’t come any closer”. However, that doesn’t mean the rest of the campground enjoys listening to your dog’s every word.

So, it would be a great idea to keep their barks to a very low roar by training them to bark on demand or when something is truly wrong.

Oh, and please don’t shake pennies in a coffee or constantly yell at your dog. That, alone, grates on your camping neighbor’s nerves. Instead, reward praise and reward with a small treat when they show good doggy manners. This will teach them what’s appropriate appropriate.

Adding in, one of the biggest complaints in the campgrounds are dogs barking excessively inside their RV as the pup’s owners are out exploring. Consider either taking them with you or taking some steps to make them feel more comfortable and a little less anxious.

Try turning on the radio or television, pulling the window shades so they can’t see outside and leave them plenty of food and fresh water. Also, give them a chew toy to keep them occupied to stave off their anxiety.

Great tips on how to keep your pets cool in your RV during the hot months!

Keeping pets cool in summer heat

Arrival and Departure Times 

Campgrounds, RV Parks and Resorts have arrival and departure times for a reason.  Don’t make incoming RVers or Campers wait for their site because of your poor planning.

Etiquette Campground - Arrival and Departure Times

And if you arrive before check-in time, make sure you’ve made prior arrangements with the RV Park or Campground staff. The staff and volunteers need time to clean and patrol the site before the next guest arrives.

Lastly, by arriving unannounced interrupts the Campground Host’s routine of making certain your site is clean and ready for your arrival. Your Camp Host may not have gotten to your site to clean it yet.

Respect Quiet Hours

We understand, the weekend is here and you want to just let your hair down and jam pack all of your fun into two or three days. However…

Not everyone likes your genre of music, yapping dogs, screaming kids or loud drunks, etc. A good campground etiquette suggestion is to stand near your neighbor’s RV site while your travel companion tests your music volume and speaking voices. If you can hear it near their RV, you’re too loud.  Speaking of barking dogs, this goes for them inside too.

Etiquette Campground Quiet Hours

When you leave your RV, make certain your pup is happy and not going to bark his poor little fuzzy head off inside because he misses you. Close the shades, put some music or the television on to drown out the outside noise so he can’t hear it. And don’t be too long.

Onto another noise issue. Just because they are called ‘slam latches’ doesn’t mean you should let them slam. Close them as quietly as possible. Don’t just let them slam shut.

Our own rule is that we check-out no earlier 9:00 am and check-in no later 4:00 pm. Not only is that to satisfy our own travel limitations but also to be respectful of our neighbors and posted quiet hours.

If you arrive or depart during quiet hours (usually 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 or 8:00 a.m.), try to do it quickly and quietly. Your neighbors would be happy if you would curtail setting up until the morning after or packing up the night before.

Again, allowing your diesel engines running for more that a few minutes will surely score no points with your neighbors and handshakes will be nil.

Lastly, please refrain from using your vehicle key fob button that the honks the horn. And, if you have motorized adventure toys, allow engines to idle only for a couple minutes. This also applies to your diesel engines (motorhomes and trucks). Not only is the sound nauseating but so are those exhaust fumes.

Clean up your act and stow your gear!

Some campers take the attitude “it’s my site, I’ll do whatever I want with it”. Unfortunately, not minding your campsite becomes a safety issue.

If you’re not going to be at your campsite, stow and secure your outdoor gear. If the wind  or a storm pops up unexpectedly, your camping gear will become dangerous projectiles. Dining canopies, camp chairs, yard art and other campsite gear can become airborne can damage other RVs or injure fellow campers. 

But also, no one wants to live next to the site that looks like a Walmart toy aisle at Christmas. Keep your site picked up, neat and tidy.

Wash your OWN RV!

These days there are few Campgrounds and RV parks that allow to wash your rig but if you’re permitted to bust out the hose, bucket and sponge, watch your spray.

On windy days, consider not washing because your water spray will no doubt blow over to your neighbor’s coach who probably had theirs washed the day prior or don’t need it blowing on them if they are sitting out at their own site or eating their meal.

Now, if you want to raise eyebrows and impress your friends, use Waterless Wash Wax All that only takes a spray bottle and microfiber towels.

Campground Etiquette RV Lights

Campgrounds are not Las Vegas

Your midnight airplane runway surely won’t land you any invitations for breakfast the next morning. Most of your neighbors won’t take lightly to your bright lights beaming through their shades; especially after hours. You’re neighbors may want to stargaze or just enjoy the ambiance of the campfire. Just be considerate and turn off your outdoor lights after quiet hours.

While it’s fine to leave a small porch light on after hours in case you need to let Fido out or grab a smoke, it’s not okay to light your campsite like a KISS concert.

Stop site cutting 

Remember when our parents told us to stay on the sidewalk and not to cut between people’s yards? Well, those same manners apply to campground or park sites.

When RVers and Campers pay their site fees, they’re essentially paying for their own little yard.  Site cutting can be interpreted as intrusive, speculative and rude.  It’s disrupting to pet owners, meal times, etc.

Typically, the unspoken rule is a site parameters are from electric pedestal to electric pedestal.  Do not park your vehicles in someone else’s site boxing them in.

Also, you and your guests should not park vehicles that will stick out into the roadway making it difficult for incoming or outgoing RV’s to navigate or park their way through the park or prevent emergency vehicles necessary passage.

Slow your roll!

Campground Etiquette Slow Children at Play

See those speed limit signs? Campgrounds and RV parks/resorts are busy with Campers walking their dogs, elderly strolling, children running or riding their bikes, and RV’s may be pulling in and out to park. Way too many times have we’ve seen ‘almosts’ from people driving way too fast for conditions.  Please, just slow down.

Stoke that smoke!

Oh, nothing tastes better than franks-on-a-stick, s’mores or mountain pies cooked over campfires, but to allow the fires to continually smolder releasing tons of gagging smoke is going to make your neighbors grumpy and sick. Even paper plates give off toxic fumes if burned. And never ever throw in any plastic whether they’re red solo cups, plastic bottles or plastic wrap and even styrofoam meat trays.

We’ve also noticed recently that more RV parks and resorts are banning wood-burning campfires for several reasons; health, close proximity to other RV’s, sparks and smoke blowing over to other’s campers or RV’s, firewood infestations, etc.

A good etiquette rule of thumb is only build a fire if you’re going to be out there tending it. Never put that responsibility on children.

Do not feed the wildlife

While it may be tempting to lure that chipmunk, duck or deer into your campsite, don’t!

Feeding any wildlife can lead to a number of serious problems. First, food meant to human consumption is not healthy for animals nor do they need food from humans to survive. Wild animals have their own specialized diets and can become very sick or die if they consume the wrong foods.

Feeding wildlife also leads to public health concerns. Too many animals in one place increases the chance of disease transmission to other wildlife and people. Wild animals will lose their fear of people and become dependent. And they may become aggressive and dangerous to humans and domesticated pets.

Birds gathering near airports can become victims of bird-aircraft collisions, potentially causing flight delays, damage to aircraft, and loss of human life. And feeding ducks and geese will result in pollution issues in nearby waterways, backyards and athletic fields. Some waterfowl species drop up to a pound of feces every day!

So, next time you want to feed those cute little chipmunks some of your peanuts or throwing bread in the duck pond…don’t.

Leave it better than you found it! 

Campground Etiquette - Trash in Fire Pit

Raise your hand if you’ve arrived at your site that’s been littered with cigarette butts, candy wrappers, bottle caps, or beer can pull tabs. Or maybe the previous campers left a whole bunch of nasty trash in the firepit?

Just because you may have been assigned a dirty site, doesn’t mean you should leave it the same way.  Be good stewards.  Clean and patrol your site before leaving. If you brought it, take it with you. And even if you didn’t leave it, still pick it up and dispose of it properly.

Also, animals cannot distinguish food from wrappers or foil and can get sick eating these items.

No distractions, please!

I know this may not sound like a campground rule but it’s really about respecting your camping neighbors.

I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been distracted by friendly campers who want to talk to us precisely while neck deep into our RV maintenance or installations. And I speak collectively here, we may be cleaning our black tank, climbing the ladder or conducting necessary RV roof maintenance.

Oh, and let’s not forget when we’re hooking up to leave.

Distracting your fellow campers during their maintenance or important evolutions can lead to damage to their RV or serious injury. So please hold your conversations and save your questions until your campsite neighbor’s chores are done. 

That’s a wrap!

In closing, the main rule of thumb of RV park or campground etiquette is to treat others as you’d like to be treated.  Sometimes, people don’t know or may not be aware that their behavior or infractions affect others.  The point is, just be polite.  Respect thy neighbor!

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7 Replies to “Campground Etiquette: Camping Rules to Remember”

  1. Great article, should be handed out at every campground. We’ve been RVing for 4 years now and the courtesy most disregarded is picking up after pets. While campfire smoke doesn’t bother us cigarette smoke does would be nice if campgrounds offered nonsmoking areas so we can enjoy the fresh air.

    1. So happy we could help, Frank. Yes, we agree, that all campers should be respectful to not only other campers but the staff and volunteers also. No one wants to pick up after others or tell them to follow rules. It should be simple common sense to. Keep doing what you’re doing!! Thanks for following! -Lisa & Dan

  2. I agree with all that you have said!!
    But you forgot to mention generators! Where l camp, many people insist on running their loud generators all day & all night!! Even when asked nicely MANY TIMES (even @ 2:00 am) they refuse to shut them down. They have NO respect for quiet time (10:00 pm – 6:00 am) or the other campers around them. I run my generator long enough to watch the news at 9:00 pm, or when it’s time for another batch of Margaritas! If you are so spoiled you can’t live without your air conditioner, go to a lake that has electric hookups or stay your ass to home!!

    1. Angie, thank you so much for reading our informative blog. YES, we tend to agree with your opinion of generators or any noise between traditional sleeping hours. That said, not everyone is using them for comfort such as air conditioners. Some need them to power life support devices such as CPAP machines. All RVs don’t have the same energy management systems therefore, generators may be necessary. Disabilities shouldn’t hold anyone back from doing what they love to do or travel. Yes, sometimes they’re noisy but having been in this situation, ‘we understand’.

      Now, loud obnoxious and disrespectful people….LOL

      Do understand that the article we wrote was geared towards those staying in campgrounds or RV parks and not boondocking. We do have another blog for that subject.

      Safe travels and happy camping! -Dan & Lisa

    2. Angie, although I understand your concern I myself MUST use a generator to power medical equipment when there is no power box. I used to consider those with a camper as “not campers” and preferred to tent camp, but with medical problems due to combat operations I began to require power. Am I supposed to never enjoy camping because the sound offends you?

      I make an attempt to stay quiet and place the generator where is least offensive, but if I could run off of battery I would. I often camp alone and away from everyone, boondocking if possible in order to avoid others. To demand that I stay at home instead of camp, something I and my family enjoy, simply because I require power to stay alive is a bit selfish. I agree that those who live with the power and not have a medical need, or something else important, should be able to disconnect. I feel that you are failing to realize that sometimes it is a necessary evil even that camper wishes he did not have to use. Please do not “judge a book by it’s cover,” advances in medical technology have made it possible for someone like myself to enjoy time with his family in the country he fought for, at the cost of needing electricity.

      Please note, I am working towards upgrades that allow me to run all night off of battery, but I will need a bay of at least 8 (6 is needed ,2 for backup in the event of failure). This way I can charge during the day and be less intrusive to others, and possibly get some solar to offset the time needed to charge.

  3. Thank you for your article – great common sense info for all campers. Sometimes all of us can use a reminder of how to be courteous to our neighbors!
    Thank you for your service in the USCG – youngest son also a member of the Coast Guard- Semper Paratus!

    1. Hi Teri, thanks for following along! Sometimes it pains us to have to blog about common sense info but sometimes it needs to be said. We appreciate you reading our info and taking to heart of knowing our intentions (which are always good!). Tell your son best wishes and to stay safe! Semper Paratus!! Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook page too!! -Dan & Lisa

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