Camping Rules and Campground Etiquette You Should Never Ignore

Camping etiquette and exhibiting simple courtesy seems to be a thing of the past. Some people think that when they go camping, it’s a no-bars-held party atmosphere. And, since there’s no such thing as an Emily Post Camping Etiquette book, we wrote our own camping rules guide to educate new campers and remind more seasoned campers of the dos and don’ts of camping.

And that’s precisely why we all need to follow the campground rules and good camping etiquette.

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’.

In other words, tight campsites can bring out the best and the worst in people. While we all have our own vision of what camping life entails, that may not be others’ camping vision.

Camping Rules and Campground Etiquette - Always On Liberty

This blog article contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here.

Camping Rules and Campground Etiquette You Should Never ignore

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 meat, we have to mind our manners a bit more while camping.

But camping brings is a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

So, while we totally get that camping is supposed to be the place you want to just let your hair down. We understand that camping allows you to let go of the stress from your work week.

But, we all still have to be respectful of those who are camping all around us. They are trying to unwind, unplug and enjoy their camping experience just the same.

And remember, campground rules are put into place for everyone’s safety. But also, it’s to create harmony in the campground for everyone to enjoy their camping experience; not just you.

✰ READ MORE   Types of RV Camping: From Off Grid Camping to Lap of Luxury Glamping

Camping Rule #1:  Scoop your dog’s poop

Basic Camping Rules and Campground Etiquette - Clean Up Dog Poop
Photo source: Canva

We totally get that Fido and Fifi don’t just poop on demand. So, one of the rules of camping with pets is to make certain you take your puppy poop bags and clean up after them.

Not only is leaving dog poop (or cat) toxic to other dogs and wildlife, it’s also unsanitary and just nasty to have to clean dog crap off of your kids’ shoes. This goes especially for those who don’t even own a dog.

So, never just walk away from your dog’s pile of poop thinking others won’t notice. Trust me, everyone’s watching!

✰ READ MORE   Camping with Dogs & Cats – Do’s and Don’ts of Pet Etiquette

Camping Rule #2:  Leash your dogs (and cats!)

Basic Camping Rules and Campground Etiquette - Dog Tied Up Outside of RV
Photo source: Canva

Sometimes it’s hard to understand that not everyone likes or is going to like your dog or cat. I mean, who doesn’t love a big fuzzy face full of whiskers and clumsy puppy paws?

Which is why most campgrounds also incorporate pet camping rules to keep the peace.

But, there’s a few pet camping rules that seemingly fly out the window for some campers.

One of those camping rules is pets should be kept on short leashes no longer than 6 feet (NOT those retractable leashes!). And that’s not an invitation. Those leash laws are put into place for good reason; safety and liability.

Even if your pet acts and reacts to voice command, the campground rules and state and local ordinances always take precedence. 

But, it goes further than just clipping a leash on your dog or cat.

Pet owners should not let their pet to approach other campers or their pets. Even if your dog is friendly, other dogs may not be quite as receptive to nose nuzzling and butt sniffing.

And speaking of dog walking, be wary of sending your child out to walk the dog. Make absolutely certain that your child can control the pet; especially bigger and more powerful dogs.

An equally important camping rule is to make certain child pet handlers also clean up after their pets.

Sadly, through my observation of full-time RV camping, 99% of kids do not clean up after their pets.

✰ READ MORE Why You Should Leash Your Dog Outdoors – Safety Concerns

Camping Rule #3:  Don’t allow your dog to bark

Barking Dog at Campsite - Always On Liberty
Photo source: Canva

Dogs love to go camping! Or so we’ve heardall of us!

While your dogs may love to voice their excitement, it can be a little excessive, loud and irritating to other campers.

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 very minimal. Properly train your dog(s) to bark only when something is truly wrong.

That goes without saying though, please don’t shake pennies in a coffee or constantly yell at your dog.

That right there is enough to send your camping neighbors in a tizzy. If your dog is a barker, remove him from the situation and correct him in a positive and enforcing manner.

When they do hush down and show good doggy manners, reward with verbal praise with a small treat. This will teach them appropriate behavior when camping.

Also, one of the biggest complaints in the campgrounds is people not realizing (or caring) about their dogs barking excessively inside their RV while they’re out exploring.

If your dog has has anxiety issues when being left alone in your camper, 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 on a low volume and pulling the window shades so they can’t see outside.

And always leave them plenty of food and fresh water to curb their huge and thirst.

chew toy will help to keep them occupied and stave off their anxiety.

✰ READ MORE   Leaving Your Dog Alone in Your RV? Dog Separation Anxiety Tips!

Camping Rule #4:  Don’t arrive or depart at night

Camping Rules of Etiquette - Campground Sign
Photo source: Canva

Campgrounds, RV Parks and Resorts have arrival and departure times for a reason.

First, for the safety of other campers who may be out walking in the dark.

But also, for your safety as to not ploy your RV into obstructions or other RVs.

Also, don’t make incoming RVers or Campers wait for their site because of your poor planning.

If a campground’s checkout time is 11:00 a.m., then you should be out of your campsite no later than *drum roll* 11:00 a.m.

And if you arrive before check-in time, make sure you’ve made prior arrangements with the RV Park or Campground staff.

Don’t think you can just show up before check-in time if you’re a little ahead of schedule. The staff and volunteers need time to clean and patrol the site before the next guest arrives.

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

See if we’ll ever Camp Host again…

Camping Rule #5:  Respect campground quiet hours

Camping Rules of Etiquette - Campground Quiet Hours Sign
Photo source: Canva

There’s a lot that goes on in a campground. We totally get that you want to just let your hair down and blare your favorite beats while you’re camping. 

However, realize not everyone likes your genre of music, yapping dogs, screaming kids or loud, obnoxious drunk campers, or wants to know your every move.

So, he’s a few campground etiquette tips to help you be a great model others will take note.

Music and Voice Volumes

Go stand near your neighbor’s RV site while your travel companion tests your music or outdoors television’s volume.

As well, listen to each other’s speaking volume. Especially in those awning-to-awning campgrounds, noise is a huge issue. So, don’t be that guy! 

If you can hear your music, voices, etc., near their RV, turn it down. Don’t wait for your camping neighbor to approach you or get reported to the Camp Host. Repeated from above, this goes of barking dogs too; outside and inside your RV.

RV Doors and Slam Latches

Another noise issue many don’t realize is those RV doors. Just because they are called ‘slam latches’ doesn’t mean that in a literal sense. Close them as quietly as possible.

Seriously, they DO close and lock properly without slamming them shut.

Arriving or Departing After Hours

We live by the RV 3-3-3 rule. With that, we depart no earlier 9:00 a.m. and arrive no later 3:00 p.m.

Not only does that to satisfy our own travel plans but also, it’s our way of being respectful to our fellow campers and the posted quiet hours.

Campground quiet hours are typically 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. If you must leave or arrive during those quiet hours, try to do it quickly and quietly.

Save setting up your campsite for the following morning and packing up everything the early evening before.

On another note, allowing your diesel engines to run more that just a few minutes will score no points with your neighbors and handshakes will be nil.

While we (collectively) realize that some older motorhomes need engine time to air up their brakes, don’t just let it idle for no other reason.

Aside from the noise, the exhaust isn’t pleasant either.

Motorized Toys

And, if you have motorized toys like motorcycles and dirt bikes, side-by-sides and 4 wheelers, be cognizant of the noise. Even some diesel trucks are super loud in close confines of some campgrounds.

So, only allow motors idle for just a couple minutes. Not only is the engine sound head-pounding but those exhaust fumes are nauseating; especially at when families are trying to enjoy their meals at the picnic table.

Using or Exercising your Generator

And, unless you have permission from campground management to run or exercise your RV generator, save that for when you’re underway.

Running your generator is loud and compounds in close quarters. Also, the fumes are obnoxious and poisonous.

The best time to run your RV generator is when you’re boondocking away from others or again, when you’re underway.

Key Fobs

And one last camping rule regarding noise is to refrain from using your vehicle’s key fob button in the campground.

No one wants to listen to repeated car horns and beeps each time you lock your vehicle; especially during quiet hours.

Camping Rule #6:  Keep your campsite clean & tidy

Basic Camping Rules of Etiquette - Clean Campsite
Photo source: Canva

No one wants to camp next to the site that looks like the WalMart toy aisle at Christmas. So, keep your site picked up, neat and tidy. 

If you’re not going to be at your campsite, stow and secure your outdoor gear. One reason is if the wind picks up or a storm rolls through unexpectedly, your camping gear will become dangerous projectiles.

This goes for your camping screen tent, camp chairs, various yard art and other campsite gear. Any or all of it can become airborne can damage other RVs or injure fellow campers. Or, you could lose it forever.

✰ READ MORE  Campsite to Glampsite: 20 Campsite Decorating Ideas

Camping Rule #7:  Washing your RV

Washing RV at Campsite - Always On Liberty
Photo source: Canva

These days there are very few Campgrounds and RV parks that actually allow you to wash your rig at your campsite.

But, if you are allowed to bust out the hose, bucket and sponge, be respectful of your campsite neighbors. Be mindful of overspray. And especially be careful of any chemicals you may be using.

Consider not washing your rig on windy days because your water spray will no doubt blow over to your neighbor’s coach who probably had theirs washed the day prior.

And they certainly 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 neighboring campers, just break out your waterless RV wash secret formula that doesn’t involve water hoses, buckets and sponges!

✰ READ MORE  How to Protect your RV from Salt and Sun Damage

Camping Rule #8:  Be respectful with your outside lights

Outside Lights on RV Campsite
Photo source: Canva

While we all have different perceptions of what and how camping should be. We noticed there are really two standards. Those who go camping to escape the city and those who bring the city with them. I’m talking about outside lights.

We all have to be cognizant and respectful in the fact that we’re not the only ones camping. Not everywhere can you go camping in dark sky communities. And not everywhere can campers go to enjoy a carefree weekend.

Just be considerate. Turn off your outdoor lights after quiet hours when it’s prime stargazing time. Seriously, the boogie man isn’t going to come and get you.

If you have to take the doggle out for his midnight walk or you’re worried about someone stealing your gear, might I recommend using solar powered lights with motion detectors so they don’t stay on all night and ruin the ambiance.

Any which way, it’s just rude to light your campsite like a KISS concert or the Las Vegas strip. Remember, your version of camping should never be and imposition onto other campers.

✰ READ MORE   10 Must-Have Solar Camping Lights for Outdoor Spaces

Camping Rule #9:  No site cutting 

Site cutting is one of the aggravating camping rules that’s broken!

Think back to when our parents told us to stay on the sidewalk and not to cut between people’s yards. Well, that same etiquette rule applies to other people’s campsites.

Typically, the unspoken camping rule is a campsite boundaries are from electric pedestal to electric pedestal.

Site cutting can be interpreted as intrusive, invasive and quite frankly, very rude. It’s disrupting to campers who want their own space; after all, they paid for it.

Site cutting violates families who are trying to enjoy meal times outside, conversations, pet owners who are trying to keep their pup quiet, etc.

So, be mindful of others and use the designated walkways and streets to get to the pool, camp store or laundry.

And lastly, don’t park in someone else’s site nor block any RV or vehicle from getting in or out of their campsites.

Camping Rule #10: No speeding

Campground Speed - Slow Children at Play Sign
Photo source: Canva

Speed limit signs are there for a reason; to keep camping guests safe. Way too many times have we’ve seen ‘almosts’ from people driving way too fast throughout campgrounds and RV parks.

Campgrounds and RV parks are busy with campers walking their dogs, walkers, children running or riding their bikes, and RV’s may be pulling in and out to park.

Realize also that posted speed limit signs are not only for cars, motorcycles and RVs. They also apply to golf carts, side-by-sides, scooters, bicycles and even skate boards.

In other words, just slow your roll in the campground.

✰ READ MORE   Can You Use Golf Carts at Campgrounds and RV Parks?

Camping Rule #11:  Control your campfire

Smoldering Campfire Smoke
Photo source: Canva

I’ll be the first to admit, nothing tastes better than franks, s’mores and pudgy pies cooked over campfires.

But, in the past few years, we’ve noticed campgrounds are banning wood burning campfires partly due to fire bans that protect our wildlands.

However, there’s also an array of human reasons (health, close proximity to other RV’s, firewood insect infestations, etc.). Which is why a lot of campers are turning to propane fire pits instead.

That said, if a campground does allow you to have a campfire, only burn natural items like kindling, pinecones, dead leaves and wood.

Never throw in household trash, cans, glass or plastic bottles, red solo cups, plastic wrap or even styrofoam meat trays.

And, in keeping with the camping rules, only build a campfire if you’re going to be out there tending it.

Lastly, ALWAYS douse your campfire completely with water before abandoning it, leaving for the day or turning in for the night.

✰ READ MORE   Campfire Safety Tips – Help Prevent Forest Fires!

Camping Rule #12:  Do not feed the wildlife

Feeding a Chipmunk a Peanut - Do Not Feed Wildlife
Photo source: Canva

While it may be tempting to feed that cute little chubby cheek chipmunk your peanuts or lure Bambi into your campsite with a carrot, don’t! Feeding wildlife can lead to a number of serious problems for them and us.

First, food meant to human consumption is not healthy for animals. Nor does any wildlife 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 upon humans or may become aggressive and dangerous to humans and 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 causes pollution issues in nearby waterways, backyards and athletic fields.

Did you know that some waterfowl species drop up to a pound of feces every day?!

So, next time Chubby the Chipmunk begs for some of your peanuts or ducks wanting a bite of your sandwich, camping rules dictate not to. It’s not healthy for any of us!


Camping Rule #13:  Leave your campsite better than you found it! 

Camping Rules of Etiquette - Leave No Trace - Trash in Fire Pit
Photo by Always On Liberty©

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

Just because you may have been assigned a dirty site, doesn’t mean you should leave it the same way.

Patrol and clean your site thoroughly 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.

Be good stewards of nature and model citizens of the campground. Lead by example for our younger generation of campers.

✰ READ MORE  LEAVE NO TRACE: Pack in Pack Out Rules of Camping

Camping Rule #14: Do not distract other RVers’ during safety evolutions

Hooking Up Toad Vehicle with CURT Rambler Tow Bar - Always On Liberty
Photo by Always On Liberty©

I know this may sound like one of the most silly camping rules but it’s really about respecting your fellow campers.

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 projects, maintenance and installations.

While we totally enjoy making new friends and sharing knowledge, there’s a time and place.

And speaking collectively, while we are flushing our black tank, filling our water, climbing the ladder, doing necessary roof maintenance and even hooking up our fifth wheel or toad vehicle isn’t any of those.

Distracting others during their maintenance or important safety evolutions can lead to damage to their RV or serious injury.

So, hold your conversations and save your questions until all chores are done. 

✰ READ MORE   Military Camping: Military and Veterans Camp Cheaply

Wrapping up the basic rules of camping

Always On Liberty Lisa with Winnebago View Motorhome
Photo by Always On Liberty©

In closing, the main camping rules of thumb is to treat others as you’d like to be treated.

Some people may be new at camping and not aware of these camping rules. Just be polite and strike up a conversation. Know how to read the room even if it is outside.

Courtesy goes a long way. Be aware that your actions (or reactions) could affect someone else’s camping experience.

Amazon RV Parts Accessories

Always On Liberty is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


10 Replies to “Camping Rules and Campground Etiquette You Should Never Ignore”

  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. I wholly endorse all these etiquette items. I have to say though, that campground owners and operators rarely if ever clean up their sites prior to new guest’s arrival! You’re lucky if you find the oppostie. There’s trash, cig butts, and the usual messes that are commonly found. Sometimes the water hasn’t been completely shut off or the thing leaks. The breakers are all still on, the sewer cap is lying around (or missing). There’s more but I know you get the point. You know, I really don’t mind too much- most of these things we just do ourselves even though we shouldn’t have to. My only real gripe is when breakers are worn out- I really think this is a must fix on the part of the campground! I learned long ago to be sure I had every adapter needed to use if necessary.

    Thanks for your blog- I saw it on RV You guys are my kind of campers!

  4. 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

  5. It’s awesome that your article described campground etiquette and what we’d avoid doing when visiting one. We’d like to go on a road trip in a few weeks since we just bought our RV, so we’ll definitely follow your advice. We appreciate your insight on keeping our campsite clean to avoid putting the other campers in danger.

  6. This summer, we’ll go on our first road trip with the new RV, so we’d like to learn all about RV campground rules. We’re glad you explained the importance of arriving and departing at the right times when staying at an RV campground. We’ll follow your tips to be the best neighbors at an RV campground.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *