Golf carts are very much a part of the camping scene at campgrounds. While they used to be for just those who are disabled, golf carts have become, not only a form of transportation throughout the campground but also as a form of recreation.
Can You Use Golf Carts at Campgrounds?
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Why Golf Carts are So Popular in Campgrounds
It’s easy to figure out why golf carts are a big part of camping. Because they’re fun to drive around the campground. Especially in large RV parks or campgrounds, they can be used to go visit other campers in another section. Golf carts also are popular because you can pack the family in (within reason) to go for a scenic tour of the campground.
Do You Have to be Disabled to Operate a Golf Cart in a Campground
It used to be that to be allowed to use golf carts in campgrounds, the operator must be deemed disabled. They must have a handicap placard issued by the state they register their vehicle(s) in.
The premise of allowing golf cart use was so those with disabilities that kept them from walking could get around more freely. It’s so they don’t have to be confined to their site. They could use their golf cart to take the trash to the dumpster, go to bath house, or even just to get some fresh air.
If a campground only allows persons who are disabled to operate golf carts, they will require your disabled persons parking placard to be visibly placed on the rear view mirror.
However, campground owners across the United States have relaxed that golf cart rule for a variety of reasons.
Why Some Campgrounds Frown upon Golf Carts
Unfortunately, there’s some not-so-great things about allowing golf carts in RV parks and campgrounds.
First reason is, golf carts in campgrounds do make some people lazy. Campers are driving their golf carts to the trash dumpster or even walking their dog! Kids are even asking for a ride to the playground or camp store instead of walking. That said, it’s totally understandable driving the golf cart to the camp store for a couple bundles of firewood or take all your stuff and littles to the pool.
Second, golf carts bring liability issues to the campground. This is why campgrounds may charge a golf cart usage fee and mandate certain age requirements to operate them. Many campgrounds require golf cart drivers be at least 18 years old with a valid driver’s license. However, I’ve seen a lot of campgrounds now requiring the operator to be a legal age of 21 and over.
And third, most go camping to get away from the hustle and bustle. However, as we’ve experienced at a particular campground in Indiana, there was a constant parade of golf carts that it totally killed the camping vibe. At night, the parade turned into a show of strobing and flashing lights, blaring music and driving them too fast.
Do Golf Carts Have to be Licensed to Use in a Campground or RV Park?
Depending on which state or municipality, campgrounds may only allow street-legal ‘only’ golf carts (we’ll get to that in a moment).
Because golf carts are issued a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), in most states, you may be required to get your golf cart registered, insured and inspected to ensure that your cart is safe and road worthy.
According to Golf Cart Report’s Do I need a License Plate for a Golf Cart, “Although you can drive a golf cart on your private property, including converted models, without a license, all states that allow you to drive your carts on public roads require a license plate.”
Even when you convert a golf cart to a street-legal vehicle, you need to follow many rules and guidelines to ensure everything is done correctly. Street-legal means the golf carts must be equipped with:
- Brake lights
- Windshield reflectors
- Side mirrors
- Rear view mirror
- Seatbelts for the driver and passenger
Also, the golf cart driver or operator must have a current driver’s license and proof of insurance which also includes liability insurance.
So, getting back to whether or not the campground requires your golf cart to be licensed, it all comes down to the state, municipality, and the campground’s insurance policy.
In other words, before you take your golf cart to any campground or RV park, ask what their requirements are and if there are any associated fees to operate them on the premises.
To find out if your golf cart needs to be licensed or registered, check out Golf Cart State Laws & Regulations for All 50 States.
Gas Powered vs. Electric Golf Carts?
There are two different ways golf carts are powered; electric and gas.
Electric-Powered Golf Carts
Electric-powered golf carts are more popular and are as they are quiet, produce less emissions; thus giving off no exhaust odor. They are no more of a distraction than one riding a bicycle or electric scooter. However, the downside of electric golf carts is they need recharging. You can either plug your golf cart into your RV, your electric pedestal or a 20amp automobile battery charger.
Of course, you could mount solar panels on your roof and/or install better 6 volt deep cycle batteries for a longer run time. However, that type of modification does come with a hefty price tag.
Gas-Powered Golf Carts
Gas-powered golf carts aren’t as well-received as electric golf carts. Generally, it’s because they are louder and can be quite disruptive in the camping environment. Who really wants to listen to engine noises while they’re trying to enjoy the sounds of nature?
And let’s not forget the environmental reasons why campground owners turn their noses up at gas-powered golf carts. They emit nauseous exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide; both of which impacts air quality and the environment.
Golf cart rules in campgrounds and RV parks
- Golf cart operators must be 21 or older unless stated otherwise by campground.
- Drivers must have a valid driver’s license.
- Always abide by the posted speed limit.
- Never drink and drive even when operating a golf cart. You still can be cited for DUI.
- You may be required to pay a security deposit for potential loss or damage of campground property.
- Respect basic rules of the road driving etiquette; use turn signals, drive on the right side of the road (U.S.) and always give pedestrians, wheelchairs and scooters, and horses right of way.
- Stay on designated golf cart pathways and roads.
- Avoid leaving ruts in mud and grass.
- Park only in designated golf cart parking spaces and at your own campsite
- All passengers must stay seated at all times. No standing and no sitting on laps except for very small children.
- Do not overload your golf cart with passengers.
- Refrain from blasting loud music, cheering, screaming or hollering on your golf cart.
- Abide by golf cart usage curfews. Typically, this rule is put into place after sunset as it’s difficult to see pedestrians and pets, wheelchairs, bicycles and obstructions.
- Never leave your keys in the ignition when your golf cart is left unattended.
- Own up to any damage you may have caused with your golf cart.
Want to know how to load your golf cart into the back of a truck? Check out how First Time RVers do it!
Can I use my golf cart at a National Park campground
Generally speaking, National Parks do allow you to use your golf cart in the campground only, unless otherwise specified by each park. Golf cart usage in the park’s campgrounds hinges on each park’s rules and regulations.
According to Outdoor Barren, “Of the 62 National Parks, each could have certain requirements for golf carts including holding a valid driver’s license, that carts are licensed and insured, usage limited to roads with low speed limits posted, no carts on sidewalks or grass areas, or only with a Superintendent’s approval. Some disallow golf carts entirely.”
Your takeaway on taking your golf cart to campgrounds
While driving your golf cart around is a fun and enjoyable part of your definition of camping, know that there are responsibilities of operating them. Before making reservations, always check with each campground to see if they allow them, what their requirements are to operate them and any applicable fees. That way, there will be no surprises and disappointments when you get there.
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