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Today I’m filing a blog entry in the complaint box. Early campground checkout times are one of my chief annoyances with the camping industry.
On more than one occasion, we’ve been greeted by some guy in a golf cart, furiously rapping on our door to boot us off our site by 11AM. At times we’ve even encountered nasty confrontational attitudes! In a tip of the hat to Seinfeld, we’ll dub these overzealous characters Campground Nazis.
Let me be clear: NO MATTER WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT THE CAMPGROUND, THE IDEAL CHECKOUT TIME SHOULD BE 2 PM. It works well for many State parks and RV resorts – why not private campgrounds?
We’re talking about a campground, not a hotel. There’s no team of maids coming through to clean the campsite. In most cases, there’s no shortage of available campsites for new arrivals. Why shouldn’t campers be able to stay until 2PM?
For those of us who are “location independent professionals,” mornings are often important times to work. And there’s the process of hitching and breaking down camp; having a little extra time to do these chores is quite helpful. Three hours may not sound like much, but sometimes it’s the difference between a pleasant enjoyable morning and a stressful one.
For “weekend getaway” campers, a 2 PM checkout time allows folks to fully enjoy Sunday morning, and then depart after lunch.
Physically disabled campers would also benefit from the extra time to break down camp.
Yes, campground owners are free to set 11AM checkout times if they wish. But RV’ers are free to “camp” at Walmart or other such places where there are no early checkout hassles. Sure, we’d all rather stay in a REAL park, but it sucks away the fun when some “Campground Nazi” is barking orders for no good reason.
If I owned and operated a campground, I’d want my guests to have as enjoyable an experience as possible. I’d want repeat business. I’d have a 2PM (or later) checkout time.
That’s what I think. What do YOU think?
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As an ex campground owner/operator I can see that some people like of need to stay longer than the posted check-out time, but if you like to run a clean campground you need to clean the sites after people left. Some people leave a campsite clean but some do not and you have to check to make sure.
So 11.00 am is a perfect time, it gives the campground sufficient time to clean etc. before new guest are arriving in many cases somewhere between 2.00 pm and 6.00 pm.
In the time we had the campground people would ASK if they could stay a little longer and if the site wasn’t booked we would allow that without any charge to an mutual agreed time.
We also have the experience that whatever time you’re setting as a check out time, it is never right and if you give people a finger some take the whole hand. We owned a fishing resort and people for instance would like to stay longer in order to go one more time out for fishing, you let them stay till 2.00 pm and then they come back at 3.00 pm and they still have to pack-up etc. and they leave at 5.00 pm or even later.
So sometimes you have to set the rules straight otherwise you’re used as a doormat.
@Ken Higgitt; I agree with you 100%!
As campground managers our policy is to let guests stay as late as 5pm on sundays if the site is not reserved for the following night. Our riverside sites are in demand dureing the summer months so we have a 11 am checkout policy, but we always try to accomadate request for late check out.
We have found that guests that have reserved ahead do not appreciate being told on check in that the site they reserved is still in use and they have to park in another site. In many cases they intended to set up and go into town or engage in other activities that did not entail having to come back early to move to another sight and can bocome quite annoyed at the inconvenience.
As to the “campsite nazis” quote, we see our fair share of that kind of camper that have no consideration for the other guests around them.
Before taking over the campground we lived full time in our 5er and ofter wondered at the sometimes snarly attitude of campground staff, now we fully understand why they get that way,-inconsiderate selfish types that only see their own point of view.
These people should consider staying home so that “normal campers can enjoy their recreation time.
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I am a campground manager also.
When I took over my campground the check-out time was 11am. It is now 1:00pm.
We are one of eight RV/Campgrounds in the area of our city and ours is the only one located within the city limits. The others are on the periphery or further out. We have only 59 sites and because of our location and the fact that we are located directly on the main highway, we are much in demand. We get every type of visitor, from people who are staying just one night on their way to or from Alaska to long term stays.
It took some time but I was able to slowly figure out why my customers were always checking out late. I found that the majority of my customers who stay with us are in town to shop. This is because our city is hub for the northern area of commerce.
At first, at 11:00am we might assign a site to a new customer just to find out that the previous customer was no where to be found. Tow vehicle gone and trailer still there. We found that this seemed to be the norm. Alaska travelers usually were on the road early thankfully and we would just move the new customer to the empty site.
My wife and I discussed this situation at length and decided to move our check-out time to 1:00pm to better accommodation our customers.
The interesting thing is that now that we have a check-out of 1:00pm we find that nothing much has changed. The people who come to town to shop still are nowhere to be found even with the new check-out time.
We now have a policy that one of the essential pieces of information to get from customers is their cell phone numbers so that we can call and tell them that we will charge them for an extra day if they don’t immediately come back and hook-up.
Note: we have only charged once or twice because we want to do our best to accommodate.
We also have the check-out time posted in large font directly where anyone can see it. We also remind them verbally when checking in.
We are also full timers and have experienced the full spectrum from the Campground Nazis to managers who can’t be found. We used to think that campground managers were grumpy and wondered why.
Now after running a campground where I live for the past four years I think I understand a little bit more. Having said that one thing that I will never understand is why people find it necessarily to steal toilet paper, lol!
So I guess the thing that I really want to say is that we tend to be living in a world where it’s easier to go on-line and complain and criticize and of course that is your right to do so. But please try to understand that rules are there for a reason. I will change them to accommodate my guest’s request otherwise I wouldn’t stay in business. However, if you want to stay longer talk to us at the time of your check-in. We are not unreasonable people. Where possible we will work with you. Just don’t surprise me when there are others that are needing a site too.
I think a 2:00 check out time is ridiculous. 12:00 check in / check out should be the standard. Everywhere!
Count me in with the LATER IS BETTER crowd, always, whether RV’ing or working or anything else, for that matter. (A pet peeve of a lifetime has been hotels/motels’ early checkouts — not to mention singles are penalized… Why not charge couples more since there are 2 of them vs. 1 of me? 🙂
That is one huge reason I am planning an RV cross-country trip vs a drive/motel trip & was wondering this very thing re RV checkin/checkout times as my body-clock has never jived with 8-5.
Nightowls are under-appreciated! Being a square-peg in a round-holed world is a challenge. It’s actually a great life, though, if the world would just cooperate! 🙂
“It’s very difficult for a night owl to become a morning person” – Johns Hopkins Medical Sleep Center: articles.cnn .com/2009-07-09/ health/night.owl.morning _1_owls-spinal-cord-morning /2?_s=PM:HEALTH
Looks like I may be stopping at a lot of Walmarts. 🙂 Thanks for the great read.
My experience with check-out times is that whatever the time, my wife is still capable of stretching that time by another 20 minutes or so. So, I, who prefers to be leaving earlyish dreads seeing a late check-out time advertised, because my other half can be guaranteed to say ‘they won’t mind if we’re a little late leaving’
I understand that campgrounds have new people coming in but I think noon would be a good time because it is kind of nice to have time to eat breakfast and then packing up and hitching up your trailer does take some time. I know some campgrounds are noon and I find that works very well.
Thank you Mary & Kevin for sharing your views. You both really spotlight how the checkout time issue affects weekend campers. There’s no doubt in my mind that campgrounds (and by extension, the RV industry) are losing business by insisting on illogical early checkout times.
Although my hat’s off to all weekend campers, you’d have to really love camping to go through all of the trouble of setting up an RV camp only to be kicked out early Sunday morning. An extra few hours of time on Sunday costs the campground NOTHING, yet makes a HUGE difference for any family wanting to enjoy their final day at the campsite.
I’ve been verbally assaulted by some people over my stance on this issue. But I fail to see how my position is controversial in the slightest. With an afternoon checkout time, campgrounds make more money by increasing customer satisfaction without increasing expenses – everybody wins!
Thanks again, and happy camping!
My family camps every other weekend throughout the summer. We HATE early checkout and will never return to a park that enforces this. Our camping weekends go like this:
-My wife finishes work at 6pm Friday, and gets home at 6:30. After she has a quick shower we are on the road for 1.5 to 3 hours to the nearest park.
-By the time we check in find the site and park it is sometimes 9:30-10:00. No noisy setup required. We have a Class A RV and no need to hook up. Usually at this time the kids are already asleep, and we are close behind.
-In the morning we set up tents for the kids and then enjoy Saturday.
-For 11am check out we have to set an alarm clock(on vacation, are you kidding me) for 8:00 ,pack up the tents and gear, have a quick breakfast, quickly walk the dog, so we are are on the road by 11 and home in the afternoon(unless we stop at a beach or something on the way home) sitting on the couch wishing we could still be at the campground.
We really like a late check-out option. We do a lot of our camping on weekends, Friday night through Sunday morning/check-out time. It really cuts our weekend short when we have to be out by 11. Check out at 2 or 3 allows us to have a nice leisurely brunch, break camp, and get home at a decent hour. We don’t go too far on weekends, so it works out nicely.
Interestingly enough, we just heard from one campground with the most customer oriented checkout time (3PM). We recently received in the mail a marketing brochure from the “Yogi Bear” RV resort located outside Milwaukee, WI. They have a 3PM checkout time; they just sent us a HUGE brochure including a calendar with information about their upcoming events in 2011. They send this to everyone who stays at the park.
The campground is very busy, always PACKED on weekends. Quite frankly, I suspect the campground makes its owners LOTS of money. I’m sure the 3PM checkout time contributes to the regular business, especially on weekends.
A later checkout time costs the campground NOTHING, yet facilitates a better customer experience, especially for families, self-employed fulltimers, and the disabled. In the end, the campground makes more money! It’s a no brainer to me.
Just another one of the “Me First, Last And Only” generation of pathetic whiners who want their cake and eat it too. Erik above said it better than I can, but I find this search for a superior moral justification for selfishness to be detestable. I think the horrid reference to “Campground Nazi”, applies more to the article’s author!!
We stayed in San Antonio at Travelers Resort and came back to find a “notice” taped to our door. If we didn’t check-out by noon, we’d be charged $3/hour until 3:00PM and then for a whole day thereafter. Check your receipt there, since they tried to charges for three days when we had only stayed two. Hold on to that receipt! The response was “My bad.” No apology at all. End of my whinage…
We stayed in San Antonio at Travelers Resort and came back to find a “notice” taped to our door. If we didn’t check-out by noon, we’d be charged $3/hour until 3:00PM and then for a whole day thereafter. Check your receipt there, since they tried to charges for three days when we had only stayed two. Hold on to that receipt! The response was “My bad.” No apology at all. End of my whinage…
We stayed in San Antonio at Travelers Resort and came back to find a “notice” taped to our door. If we didn’t check-out by noon, we’d be charged $3/hour until 3:00PM and then for a whole day thereafter. Check your receipt there, since they tried to charges for three days when we had only stayed two. Hold on to that receipt! The response was “My bad.” No apology at all. End of my whinage…
I’m with you on the later checkouts…..our lifestyle works best with a checkout time of at least 1:00 (or a friendly, common-sense approach!) Either one will work just fine!
We are working and staying in one in Las Cruces right now. Checkout is at noon. We don’t know how long the assignment will be, so I go to the office before noon every day to pay for another night. But wouldn’t you know it, they shut the keycards off at around 10-10:30 every morning…Annoying, but when I asked them about it, they acted like it wasn’t possible to actually fix such a simple problem and couldn’t figure out why I would even ask. It’s hard to understand why some places just don’t “get it” We came back to this park and arrived at 11:30 am after calling to make sure they had a spot for us. The lady that answered the phone said, “Sure, we have plenty of spots” And they did, but when we got there she made a big deal out of saying the check-in time was 1:00 pm. She reluctantly let us go to one of the thirty or forty empty spots…..
As a previous owner of 2 campgrounds…one a private and the other a KOA…checkout time were only a problem from Class A after hour arrivals with 6 or more passengers who would use the night registration, signing up for a tent site showing 2 campers on the registration slip, and then leaving at 5:30 without paying, writing a comment that they would pay in the AM. Or, they would enter a false credit card number. I called them “Sneakers” and if I had one a week it would cost me over $1000 a year. You can bet I went out and checked every late night registration.
Any type of allusion to a nazi is at best stupid, any sort of name calling needs to be left to the four year olds. The same with your stereotyping “hall monitors” One might think that you want the world to bend your way, and your way alone. You referenced personal experiences of being woken by an owner/rep in attempts to determine when you are vacating. The you come here and say 2 pm should be the norm. Apparently you’re one of those that do not bother to read the park rules or work out possibilities in advance and expect the park to allow your behaviour. You replied earlier with “I am first and foremost a paying customer, and am voicing my opinions as such” Yes you are, but you are only ONE of that parks customers, and since you did not bother to find out WHY that park has that rule, you just come here and whine about how badly you were treated when the owner came a calling. The park owner listens to those that talk to him, not those that are obnoxious, ignore rules, and then whine about it on their personal blogs or park review websites. You have zero credibility if you did not talk to the owners FIRST. Next, have you noticed how many wal-marts and others are putting up the “NO CAMPING” signs? You do no favors by advocating their use. RV’s that use them where there are no RV facilities are lucky that the store managers allows them, IF they allow them, many RV’s no longer use the courtesy of asking the manager if it is permissible and jut setup where they please. Advocating their use where RV camping facilities are located is a great DIS-service to those park owners.
To answer your questions…
First, by “calling them names,” I assume you’re referring to the phrase “Campground Nazi?” This is intended in a spirit of good humor, a reference to the famous “Soup Nazi” episode of the TV show Seinfeld. Of course, not all campgrounds are run by Campground Nazis, no more than all restaurants are run by Soup Nazis. I think everyone knows the type of personality whom we are referencing (they served as hall monitors in school).
Who am I to suggest policies to RV park owners? I am first and foremost a paying customer, and am voicing my opinions as such. I’ve taken my RV to all of the lower 48 states. As an avid RV traveler, I’d like to see more campgrounds doing well. I love seeing busy campgrounds packed with happy campers who are spending lots of money. You are correct in your statement that owners who do not adapt will eventually go out of business. Any RV park owner who is interested in business success would be well advised to listen to customer opinions and enact policies that heighten customer satisfaction. Ultimately, it’s the customers who will determine whether these parks flourish or die.
Why in the world would you expect anyone to listen to when you start off by calling them names? Park owners have instituted rules to fit their operating base, the rules change as the operating model changes. Those owners that do not adapt go out of business, so who are you to tell them how to run their business? The show stopper comes from Don, he knew of the 10 am checkout, and when approached at 10:30 tells the owner/rep that ” the rules are unreasonable”. It’s people like Don that rules get put in place for. With the likes of him traveling the roads as an RV’er, who needs bad press? If you’ve noticed, those that ASKED prior to parking about exceptions to policy were normally granted them, those that do not want to grant exceptions, that gives the RV’er a chance to drive on down the road to a different place that may, or may not have what the camper wants.
Thanks everyone for the comments — keep ’em coming! There are RV park owners who read this blog and may be influenced by our opinions. (If they are wise business operators, they will listen to their customers.)
Don, your story reminds me of a time last year in Sault St.Marie, Canada. We stayed at a very nice campground that was under new ownership. I was planning to do a video about the campground, but on the appointed day of our checkout we had to leave at 11AM. I was working on some issues in the morning, and never got the chance to shoot the necessary footage before it was time to depart. If the campground had a later checkout time, I would’ve done a video (which would have been good promotion for the place). The 11AM checkout forced us to leave before the video was shot; therefore it didn’t get done and the campground lost the opportunity.
A later checkout time costs the campground nothing. In this case, the early checkout cost them a video production.
I totally agree with Sean Michael. After all, how long does it take to turn a campsite around for the next camper? No sheets to change, no bathroom to clean, no towels to swap, no vacuuming. So what’s the big deal. I stayed in an RV park in Show Low, AZ for a few days. The checkout time there was 10 AM. I was ready to go by 10:30 as the owner/manager approached and asked, in a friendly manner, how much longer I would be. I told him that 10 AM was an unreasonable checkout time for the reasons stated above. He said that, as the new owner, he was new at this and would reconsider. I haven’t been back there, though, so don’t know if he changed the policy.
Well, we are 2 people who would prefer a later, check out time. This would allow some extra morning time to visit the area more, perhaps have breakfast in the town, maybe purchase some items. We should have choices, to leave or stay a little longer.
If you check in to a campground for 2 nites, it leaves only the late afternoon to orient yourself with the area than you have the next day to tour around and than the next morning you have to leave!
A later depature time is more relaxing for us campers, it gives us choices.
We feel that departure time should be changed. It should be that no one can leave before 7:00 am! How many mornings have you all been awakened by a
camper who is shouting, or making all kinds of noises, while packing up to leave?
Thanks for listening.
We travel with kids and from time to time we want to pull out late. About 1:00
This gives us time to feed the kids lunch. There have been time that we have been told to “get out or pay for a day”
This is crap, the park is empty and there are no clean up crews. If there was maintenance going on our campsite would not need be cleaned by us upon arrival.
Most of these places have a 3 to 4 hour window with no one in the park.
What is this for?
Mike n Teri
I believe there are several travelers out there. Full timers  vacationers  retired folks, to name a few. The parks competing: the State/Federal owned and private RV parks. Each have unique differences. Do we want to see a fair fare-competitive comparison between these two? Or do we want subsidized fees? I am not quite retired. Yet, while growing up I recall my parents, grandparents, and even my great grant parents looking forward to visiting the federal parks under the subsidized fees.
I speculate, that the sooner some leave the further they get. The later they leave, the shorter distance they get, and the more business they might support.
One day (20 yrs ago) I hiked out of a 3-day backpack trip, (federal lands required registration only) into a town in a Northern part of that state. Grabbed a store bought sandwich, a cold beer and headed back into the woods, just around the corner. Turns out I was going to enter a state park, with fee$. Being a PCT & ATC volunteer I was disappointed. The state wanted a lot of money for me to drive in, sit down at the table, I pointed out, just inside the gate, to eat lunch. I was down to gas money, so I drove around the next corner, and found a log.
To this day I am perplexed over that incident.
I took my family including grand children (13 w/air fare) to a very large amusement park in Florida. We had a great time, and I spent the equivalence of a new car.
And that is they way it was.
Speaking my mind.
Quote; For those weekend campers who would like to stretch Sunday out a little longer (and we are in that category), here is another option. When you check in at the state park in our area–Oak Mountain State Park in Alabama–you can request late-day check out. For a fee of $6, paid at check in, you can stay until 5:00 PM on your check-out day. We always take advantage of that option and feel it is very fair.
Now Patty, that’s cool. I just pay the extra 18.00 bucks they charge at our state parks here in Louisiana for Sunday night and leave late Sunday so I get home by 10 PM or so. I’ll clean up the next night, Monday, after work. I’m not stressing! Even if it was 30.00 bucks, it’s such a small amount. Now $100.00 a night, I’ll stay at the motel.
I agree with your premise that check out times should be 2:00 pm. I think that is reasonable and probably does provide a camper a better camping or RVing experience. Did you complete a guest surey and TELL your hosting campground that, or email the owner or manager? Even if you complained at the front desk, the people who need to hear the complaint, don’t often get the message unless you speak or send it directly to them. Take the time to do a comment card or guest survey. It helps that manager/owner change those rules and policies and will help them provide a better experience to other people.
And, I guess I’m somewhat offended by you calling people who are asking you to leave when you haven’t follwed their campground rules a “campground nazi”. Is it terrific customer service? No, probably not. But I’m not sure that makes them a nazi.
Unfortunately, even if their rule isn’t what you like, it’s still their rule. And if the rules at the campground I’m at say I’m out at 11:00 am, then I either am out, or asking the office if there is an alternative. But I’ve never had to have a campground owner come ask me to follow their rules in the 30 years I’ve been a camper. Why? Because when I check in and get the rules, I read and follow them.
My bet is, they used to have a later checkout time, and during their busier season, people didn’t adhere to it, and so they’ve backed it up to have time to mow, pick up garbage, and clean the fire ring in preparation for the next RVer on that spot. And you’re right, there isn’t a whole bunch of maids. It’s probably the owner, or his workamper, who ave to mow it, pick up the garbage, and clean the fire ring. So — have a little empathy or that business owner, and adhere to his rules. If you don’t like them, you’re free to let him/her know that in the form of a review, or if you’re really upset, don’t camp there any longer, but name calling isn’t nice nor, is judging a campground owner!
We like to travel between about 10am and 3pm so the 11 o’clock checkout works for us, I think that at most parks we stay at if you just can not get out by 11 and you contact the office they will let you stay an extra hour or so, but if they won’t do like we do and just kick back and stay another night. If you are full time and retired this works great…
Thanks, Robert, for your comment. You have confirmed what I have suspected: there are many campers who often avoid RV campgrounds because of the hassle. Campgrounds are losing business, especially to families / weekend campers and overnight parkers, because of these policies.
Walmart parking lots and the like are not only free to overnight parkers, they have no checkout time (or even a registration). One way for campgrounds to compete is to offer generous afternoon checkout times. An afternoon checkout time costs the campground NOTHING, but it makes a HUGE difference in the overall camping experience for many people.
If you’ll see my latest post on this topic, you’ll discover one campground that’s doing it right: they have a 3PM checkout time that also allows for early check-in! They have devised a policy that really should please just about everyone. I’d love to see it become the industry norm.
I’m half crippled and find it incredibly difficult to get the 5er hooked up for an early checkout. It takes me a half hour to 45 minutes just to get out of bed in the morning after snapping bones apart that have grown together overnight. Having to rush around unhooking utilites, hooking up the truck, etc, many times I don’t even get to eat, not good for someone who is hypoglycemic, but when you have one of these morons in a golf cart sitting there at 20 minutes to 11 tapping their foot while you are hobbling around on a cane trying to get everything together and out of there…. *really* makes you want to come back.
I’m going to be making an extensive trip with three little ones here in 2 weeks. my wife will be with me for the first 10 days but will have to fly back to work , and I will be out by myself for the most part with my only helper a 13 year old and I’ve already decided that if we aren’t gong to stay somewhere for more than just overnight, we aren’t going to bother with an rv park. Just don’t need the hassles. we’re going to aim for state /US park campgrounds and take short naps after fueling at truckstops ( I drove truck for a lot of years, that’s home to me 🙂
I’ve had some incredibly rude things happen from campground owners . some due to just poor planning, like one in TX that had a late check in policy posted, ‘ just pull into any unoccupied space not marked with reserved and fill out a form an drop it in the box which we did, it was about 8:30 nbut they closed the office at 6. Fine, pulled in to the farthest away spot from anyone, and Like I said, I used to be a truck driver, I don’t need to be level to sleep, I just shut right down so not to disturb anyone. we piled in the rig and went to bed. middle of the night someone is pounding on the door THe owner is there telling me I have to move to *another spot* because they forgot to mark that one reserved ( there were about 2 dozen empty spots there, all fairly un remarkable in this little dirtwater campground) Fine, I move the thing ( I would have drove down the road, but we were visiting relatives ). THe entire time we were there about 4 days, nothing ever pulled into the spot we were forced to vacate in the middle of the night.
For those high and mighty who ALWAYS can manage to get everyplace on a schedule , there are those of us out there who are handicapped who can’t help what happens during our days, and no matter how well we try to plan them ahead , with massive amounts of excess time for every possible unforseable delay, these physical limitations have this nasty habit of delaying us even further on a rather regular basis and we wind up pulling in late sometimes. Life stinks when you get old and your body falls apart. What would you folks have happen, ban us from campgrounds, hey here’s an idea, maybe we should be rounded up and sent someplace so society doesn’t have to deal with us .
Thanks Gary, we just found a campground with e 3PM checkout time, and weekend business is BOOMING. They also accommodate both EARLY CHECK-INs (prior to 2PM) and LATE CHECK-OUTS (after 3PM).
There doesn’t seem to be any room left, so just one. Hotels need early dicharge as they must clean and repair. Campgrounds don’t do squat. No need for early checkout time as most campers leave just after lunch and new arrivals come in betwee 3&4. Absolutely redicules!!
We like 11am check out times. We like to travel in the morning when it is cooler and get set up by 2pm (also before the heat of the day) so we can run to the store if need be, do laundry and have time to relax before planning dinner. We never drive at night and in winter that means after 4:30pm.
Maybe a knock on the door at 10:45 is a little overboard, but I had the opposite experience on Memorial Day.
My wife and I waited until around 3 PM on Memorial Day to go to one of our favorite spots on the Tennessee River, We knew that the checkout time was 11 AM and realized there are always stragglers. When we arrived, there were no good sites available that could accomodate our 37′ fiver. All the riverfront sites were taken so we squeezed into a site on the back side, more suited for a popup.
Between 5 and 6 PM several campers along the waterfront finally left, so we repacked and changed sites. I asked the camp host why they allowed people to stay so late. He said that they were kind of laxed on the holiday and they didn’t expect to need the sites anyway.
Just wanted to say that checkout times can sometimes be frustrating, but there is another side to the story when rules are ignored.
Jon, you’re correct that many MOTELS have a noon checkout time. That’s the whole point — a CAMPGROUND is not a motel with a team of maids cleaning our rooms and making our beds. (So far in our RV, we’ve had to do all of these chores ourselves! ;-))
Yes Jim, I think that later checkout times would actually encourage more weekend campers to visit their local campgrounds. If you have to start packing to leave the night before (Saturday) then what’s the point?
If you unpack Friday evening, then start repacking on Saturday, you spend a large percentage of your time doing activities that just aren’t a whole lot of fun. Camping is supposed to be about relaxation and fun, not an exercise in packing. Cheers!
I do not speak for anyone but myself; I am a weekend camper, go in Friday night and leave Sunday. Of the dozen or so campgrounds I frequent they are mainly weekend campgrounds which means Sunday afternoon they are 99% vacant.
I stay after checkout on occasion and have never been asked to leave. They could easily change checkout time so as to not rush me.
I don’t see anything wrong with the 11 AM check out time. If you stayed at a motel 99% of them have the same check out time. I start breaking camp the night before. Dumping the holding tanks, back flushing them and other little things.
As campground owners we like to provide amenities and conditions that RVers want and expect.
Regarding checkout time, our’s is 12:00 NOON, extended checkout up to 3:00PM with no additional charge, if prearranged with the office staff and, if we are not completely full and won’t lose new business due to the time extension.
We would have no problem in changing our checkout time to 2:00PM, but, since we are full most of the time, we would also need to change our checkin time to 2:00PM. Otherwise you will could lose one day of revenue on that site. A RVer is paying for a day, and deserves a full day, which in our opinion is 24 hours.
Would appreciate RVers comments on the later CHECKIN time, offset by the later CHECKOUT time.
Barry, I agree with you about the business aspect of this issue. If I was running a campground, I’d want my paying guests to have the best possible experience, START TO FINISH. A later checkout time promotes a more pleasant finish. This leads to happier customers and more repeat business!
Thanks Ralph, and I agree. The core issue here is departure time. It’s all about making that final day of camping a more pleasant and enjoyable one. Rushing people off the property may achieve some short term goals for the campground, but in the long term it hurts business by detracting from the overall RV camping experience. Afternoon checkout times are better for RVers, and the RV industry.
I think everyone should relax and quit worrying about all the small stuff……so some one checks in at 10:00 PM? Who knows what that guy has been through that day…..flat tires, broke spring, traffic back up ……I have been there and done that and after a day like that it just wouldn’t be real smart to confront me about being late. As far as 11:00 check out …….that’s too early and just being greedy trying to make more money which actually back fires. If you can’t relax and enjoy camping and all the not so perfect things that go with it maybe you would be happier at home.
Park owners who are not flexible when their park is almost empty show that they are very poor business people. They fail to realize that the reason their parks are empty is because of the shoddy way they treat people. If I were treated that way, I would let the owner know in no uncertain terms that I would never stay there again, and I would tell him/her why. Before I paid my fee, however, I would certainly ask if an 11:00 AM checkout time could be extended if we just happened to be a little late in leaving. Seems to me that a 12:00 noon checkout time would be more accommodating, and that any surrounding businesses would benefit (some people like to go to restaurants for breakfast).
We stayed at a fantastic park near Mountain Home, Idaho last year. The owners there were wonderful. Friendly, helpful. This is the type of park I would travel extra miles to stay in. Can’t remember the name, but it was not far from the Wal-Mart and had a great Chinese restaurant within walking distance, and the place was surprisingly quiet. It was a newer park and had good accommodations for larger rigs.
I also don’t think it is unreasonable for a park to disallow check-ins late at night, unless the parking slot is far away enough from neighbors who have been on the road all day and want to go to sleep early. There are certain clods who pull into a slot, then take an hour to set up…banging doors, running their leveling systems, talking loudly, letting their dogs bark, etc.
Thanks Katrina for your comment. I will check out Escapees.
And I’m glad to hear we’re not the only ones who hate 11AM checkout times! They are definitely an inhibitor to us staying at certain parks. And there’s NO WAY we’ll stay at a place with a 10AM checkout – not if we can help it!
LOL Dorothy & John, yes I suppose “Brun Hilda” and the campground gestapo is another way of putting things. Some people get a little too much joy when enforcing certain rules. 😉
Dorothy & John Weber
Oh! I think we stayed there but the wife we called “Brun Hilda” and the gastapo.
We loved Glacier and hope to return but will never stay there again.
I hate 11am checkout times. They just make no sense. After touring the USA for 2 years, I have seen numerous parks with 11am checkout and 2pm checkin. It is very hard to schedule stops around that if you are not traveling long distances and I agree, they are not motels with maids coming in after us. I see campers leaving all the time and most of the time, they leave their sites clean. There is no cleanup needed so that does not hold water. I have had the nazis at my door knocking before my time was up and have seen campgrounds charge huge sums for being a minute late or threaten to do so. Worse yet are the few campgrounds with 10am checkout times. That is incredibly ridiculous! Given my choice between campgrounds whether private or state, I will go for the one with a better checkout time quite often and I too choose Walmart when pulling in late or just for one night because campgrounds (other than Escapees) do not offer cheap no frills overnight parking. Escapees do offer parking for $5 which other campgrounds should learn from.
Thanks Jerry, and I agree with your point about “paying customers.” We choose (and recommend) certain campgrounds based in part upon these policies. Of course, checkout time is one factor in the overall equation, but for us it’s an important factor. Cheers!
I think that many business owners have a problem with being Politically Correct”, or at least a misunderstanding of words and phrases. For instance the word/phrase “Guest” . If someone is a “Guest” in your home, you would not present them with a “Guest Check” at the end of their meal, they are “Guest’s” for goodness sakes. You certainly would not knock on their bedroom door at 11 A.M. to advise them that it was time for them to leave.
By the same token, I am never a guest when I pay for acomodations, food, or services, I am a “Paying Customer” and paying customers can vote with their feet. I do not expect to be treated as a guest in your campground, however I do demand to be treated as a paying that has the option of not coming back if the site, ambience, etc. is not comparable to the price paid.
Rick, thanks for your comment and I agree — 1PM is a massive improvement over 11AM. It’s only two hours, but those two hours make a world of difference! With a 1PM checkout, you can enjoy a complete morning and lunch at your campsite before hitting the road.
Michael, thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only person with this opinion! If enough of us speak out, maybe we can affect a change in policy.
DW and I totally despise the 11 am checkout. It’s bad enough that we have to get back to reality on Sunday but at 11 am? No time to enjoy the morning after waking up. North Dakota State Parks have a 1 pm checkout which allows you time to enjoy the morning, make some vittles, break camp and head out in a nice pace.
Michael J Beck
Sean, I agree. 2pm would be great.
Thanks JJ, I have enjoyed hearing all the different opinions here. The topic certainly seems to elicit strong, well reasoned responses and most have been quite civil. Differences aside, we are all wanting to enjoy our respective campsites and campgrounds, and we’d like to see policy that facilitates that goal.
To answer your inquiry, we have a 25-foot Airstream travel trailer. We enjoy owning a towable, but I certainly feel the afternoon checkouts would make the final day at a campsite (when we typically do our hitching, packing, etc.) more enjoyable
As a person involved with the RV industry in general, I’d like to see policies that exploit the unique advantages of RV travel vis-a-vis other forms of travel. I’d like to tout afternoon checkout as one of the upsides of RV camping as opposed to staying in hotels.
Thanks for the encouragement and tips. You are right about Disney. They have excellent RV parking at the Ft. Wilderness campground and also at the individual parks. We have parked our rig at Animal Kingdom more than once with no problems.
Best of luck to you, and happy camping!
Yep, i was speaking of her.
Everyone has their right to an opinion and preference, thats the good ole USA.
We are a young family. 5 year old bouncing around. Your 5pm concept is strong, but I dont think its overwhelmingly the majority. (my opinion) We dont believe that weekend trips are worth the effort for us. The camper is in storage (due to the deed restrictions – we could have a whole ‘nother thread on that)… so once we go get the camper, bring it home, clean the outside, pack it up, drive, breakdown, its totally too much time including packing up, driving back, unpacking, cleaning, and driving back to storage. So… we always take a couple days off work, maybe even a halfday somewhere, so we don’t do 5pm departures, unless its for somewhere 10+ hours away.
I find that 11am works, because it meant i was able to get into “MY” campsite at 1pm. Like i said, i reserve certain sites. The other thing is, at 11am – i dont mind moving my camper to the front lot or wherever, and enjoying the rest of the time i want, at the facilities, etc. Allowing someone else to get into that site at 1pm after cleanup. Reason why…. is that i camp Class C, so wherever i park, i’m camping. Whether its at the front lot or whatever, i can always run in and get a drink, get some lunch, we do overlooks, reststops, whatever, but thats an advantage of Class C & A vs popups & hi/lows. You can’t simply camp anywhere you park in those smaller campers. I dont know what you have, i may have missed it, but it may be part of the discussion here that 11am C&A campers can move their camper to another lot or park or wherever and still enjoy the rest of the day, allowing someone else to start their camping at 1pm. (just like they did a few days earlier).
If life was different and the norm for private places was 2pm checkout, then I would have simply adapted and found the positives to go that way. But the owners do what they want, afterall, its their place – they can do anything they want, and they dont have to change for anyone. If they have happy campers, they make money, thats the bottom line. If its a pain for them to do 2pm checkouts, then i guess thats their perogative.
Anyway, enjoy your camping! Get late checkouts everywhere you go (Disney has always given us late checkout, but if needed, we could always park at the front lot and do whatever we want). Enjoy, no matter what time checkout is! 🙂
JJ, if the “she” you are referencing as the “owner” of this thread is my wife, then you are a wise person indeed. It’s certainly true that Kristy dislikes 11AM checkout times. She also feels they are poor policy for the RV industry.
With regard to early check ins, actually you CAN have them with afternoon checkouts in most cases. The vast majority of the time, early departures will free up spaces for early arrivals such as yourself.
One of the stated goals of the RV industry is to encourage young families to go RVing. Many young families buy an RV in order to take weekend trips. Consider the perspective of these families. They get off work at 5PM Friday, head to the campground, set up their RV. Basically they get one full day of “weekend” fun and then are forced to spend Sunday morning breaking down camp instead of relaxing and enjoying their campsite. With a 2PM checkout they could instead enjoy Sunday morning and even have a family lunch at their RV.
By the way, thanks for considering the perspective of my wife! She will appreciate it! 😀
It appears to me that the owner of this thread has had her mind made up since posting. Its her opinion, and there is nothing that will sway it. Anyone who appears to have a differing opinion can post their thoughts but she has made up her mind, 11am is not appropriate for her family. Guess, what, it doesn’t matter. She says if 2pm is good enough for state parks, why not private? Well, if 11am is good enough for private, why not state parks? Either way, everyone has their own preferences. The bottom line is this, in most cases, you get the same amount of time for your stay. I, and everyone in my camping entourage, like being able to check-in early, to the campsite we are staying at, not a temporary site. We like reserving specific sites at places we like specific sites too. So we arrive, we setup camp (which takes longer than breakdown), and we still have time to have some fun, make dinner, go adventuring that day in the daylight. When we know we have an 11am checkout, we prep the night before. Everything we can pack up, we pack up at night. Then in the morning, we have a leisurely breakfast, and if we want to enjoy more of the day there, at most places there is usually a spot you can park the RV, and then go do whatever you want at the campground. Fighting over 11am vs 2pm is senseless. Everyone has their preferences. The owner of this thread has hers, she loves her opinion, and defends it. Great. She needs to camp at places with late checkout options. For others who like Early check-INs, you can’t have them without early check-outs, and its completely okay. So… to each their own preference, and to each campground owner, their own choices, and remember this 1 important thing. You choose where you camp. if you dont like the checkout or Checkin time, dont camp there, then there are no complaints. Enjoy!
Thanks Mac! Yes, you have topped the 11AM checkout time. I thought 11AM was bad, and it is, but 10AM is downright ridiculous.
You’re undoubtedly correct — a 2PM checkout time would encourage campers to have lunch inside the casino … which would inevitably lead to more gambling. (CHA-CHING!)
Instead they are sending their customers on down the road. It’s terrible policy from a business standpoint.
Enjoyed your blog, by the way!
Hey Sean, I got that beat! I got that beat! 🙂 (Remember the movie “Jaws” where they’re sitting around drinking and comparing scars?)
How about a 10:00 AM checkout time? Corning CA at the Rolling Hills Casino.
Now I ask you, how dumb is that? You’d think a casino would want us to stay until at least a little after lunch so we can come in, eat the buffet, and gamble a little more. Nope, 10:00 AM. I mentioned it on our personal blog back in August.
Thank you Johnny! Same feelings here… This has been an issue that has been in the back of my mind for the past couple of years. I’m glad to see that I’m not alone!
There’s a comment earlier in this thread where one campground employee speaks of how much he “enjoys … hurrying along” campers from their sites at 11AM. He also states that the campground “always” has people who find the 11AM checkout inconvenient, so I guess he has plenty of daily entertainment as people attempt to comply with his park’s ill-conceived policy.
Think about it… What business can prosper when employees are focused on rudely turning away customers? That sort of attitude is bad for campgrounds, and ultimately it’s bad for the RV industry. Like you say, no one ever forgets those rude exchanges at checkout time.
Thanks Jacq, I get what you are saying about the balancing of interests involved. I’m sure there are times during peak season when it’s a challenge to manage arrivals and departures.
I was thinking about this issue in restaurant terms. Suppose you went to a nice restaurant for dinner. You’ve been relaxing and enjoying the meal, and are almost done with your entree. Then the waiter marches up to your table and states, “It looks like you’re finished with your meal. You need to get out of here.” Obviously this would be unacceptable.
Maybe the above is not a perfect analogy, but when weekend camping excursions are truncated at 11AM, the experience feels similarly abrupt.
I’m thinking, for example, of young families who purchase an RV for weekend camping trips. The RV industry wants to encourage young families to enjoy the RV lifestyle, right? So let’s say the family goes to the trouble of taking their RV to a local campground for a weekend trip. With an 11AM checkout time, they can’t even enjoy their Sunday morning. The “weekend” trip really means one day of relaxation — Saturday — while Sunday morning is spent packing up camp. They would get more time to linger in a hotel!
If I owned a campground I’d want to encourage those weekend trips. In fact, I’d probably advertise the camping experience as being superior to the hotel experience.
With regard to Malibu, there are some California State parks along PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) that are alternatives to Malibu RV Park. Yes, an employee treated us rudely and that has not been forgotten. It’s a shame because the campground itself is in a desirable location.
Thanks Scott, and yes that is a perfect example of an illogical 11 AM checkout policy! It’s even more absurd since the cabins obviously need to be cleaned, while campsites usually do not.
I have to tell about one situation we encountered in New Mexico. After a long day of driving, we stopped one evening at around 9PM at a mostly empty campground. It was about 1/3 occupied. We paid our $40 and checked into a site.
The next morning the campground emptied out early — by 10 AM we were one of only TWO RVs in the whole place. But that didn’t stop them from rudely urging us off the property at, you guessed it, 11 AM. The guy was a complete jerk about it. I think that incident was a tipping point for me, because I may have told the campground guy, “Next time we’ll just stop at Walmart.” – LOL
I really would prefer to stop at campgrounds than Walmart, but I’m not going to tolerate the unnecessary morning checkouts any more. Maybe if enough people speak up we can bring about some changes in policy. (If not… watch for falling prices! ;))
Johnny G...AKA The NYC Castaway
Good article Mr Michael….I always had this subject in the back of my mind and I never said nothing about it. This is a wake up call to all the Park Owner’s accross the nation that they are losing money because the majority of RVers who are treated nicley will come back to stay in the future.
My Wife and I were treated nasty at one park because of the check out time. We used to visit this place all the time. We haven’t been back since.
Keep up the good work. Looking forward to see more from you two.
My husband and I started full timing July of 2008 and had not experienced a knock on the door before checkout time yet… We have been extremely lucky with most of the campgrounds we stay in… early checkouts and late checkouts are hard for me to decide which is better. We normally checkout around 8-9AM so we can get an early start. When we need to head out, we are normally trying to get somewhere at a certain time/date, so early start gives us some lead time for heavy traffic.
From what I understand, we are only charged for the campsite till the night before we leave the campsite, so if we decide to stay longer, then we would tell the campground owner ahead to see if we need to pay a little more to checkout later in the day since we did not pay for that day’s stay. Most of them are happy to let us stay a couple hours longer without charge or trouble if there was not much traffic coming in that day.
We run a web and graphic design studio on our own so we understand your need for work in the morning. We do like to drive in the evening however for the less heavy traffic and we won’t have to answer client calls and worry about work. That also normally mean we arrive the campground in the morning so we can also check out the area after we are hooked up.
When we were staying in Seattle this summer… an on-time checkout would have been nice for the people staying at the camp site we were suppose to be in when we arrived. We called ahead and arrived at 10:30AM and the camp owner said they will check the site for us (checkout time was 11AM.) But they did not seem to be rushing the people since they did not leave till around 12PM.
There was no place for us to park the RV since the whole park was filled (peak summer season) and the campers were taking their time with packing up. We had driven for 2 days straight and really needed a shower and settle down so we can start working that day.
We had no place to go, no large parking lot, nor a WalMart around for us to park and wait… but, the camp owner was able to let us wait at one of the camp site that was actually cleared up by an on-time checkout so we can wait for our camp site to be available, luckily the people needed that site did not arrive on-time/early.
This is a hard issue to work out, I think communication upfront will help with some of the frustrations… I also think the check-in and check-out time can be more relaxed during non-peak season and campers should follow it closely during peak season so others can enjoy their stay, too.
There is always going to be those not-so-friendly camp hosts who did not seem to like their job and some not-so-considerate campers who do not checkout on time so others can check in on time to use the campsite that they had paid for the day’s worth of stay…
We have not camped much in California, only once in the Sierras so not much experience in that area of the states… though, from what you are saying, we probably won’t stay in Malibu park if we are ever in that area. Our research for picking campgrounds are totally based on reviews… so thank you so much for sharing and I will check on your blog for more cool articles in the future.
My wife really hates the 11AM checkout and said to let you know that she wholeheartedly agrees with you. I’m a project manager by trade so I tend to be a slave driver and want to push to get out on time. The later checkouts allow us time to relax.
We stayed last week in Big Sur, CA at a park that had mostly cabins. The printed rules stated the checkout for RV/Tent sites was 11AM and the checkout for cabins was noon. That made no sense and was irritating considered we payed over $40 to stay from around 4pm to 11am with power and water hookup only. No Walmart in Big Sur though;)
Barb O, I appreciate your perspective. My guess is that 90% of the time, a 2PM checkout would not hinder your plans — especially if campgrounds allowed for an “early check in” to an available site.
Quite often (arguably the majority of the year) campgrounds have many available sites with which to accommodate early arrivals. In fact, all of the “early rise, early depart” campers free up sites for the next arrivals. Just because you have the OPTION of a 2PM checkout, that doesn’t mean you are required to use it. You can leave any time you like.
I think the RV industry would benefit from a 2PM checkout time, since it would encourage younger families to embrace the RV lifestyle. With an 11AM checkout, why take a weekend trip? You can’t even enjoy a Sunday lunch in your campsite.
I disagree. We are full timers and we like to drive to our next destination in the morning. Pull into a new campground around noon, get set up, have a bite of lunch and then some site seeing. Come home have dinner and relax. I don’t want to do my site seeing in the morning and get back and have to unhook and drive to a new destination when I am tired and worn out. After a hard day of site seeing I want to relax not work and drive. So I think checkout times should be no later than 11 am so that when I pull into my next campground my space is available for me. I detest having to sit in overflow waiting for someone to vacate the space they were supposed to be out of by 11 am..
Thanks Connie, and I agree that rules are rules. That’s why I propose that the RULE should be 2PM. Even though many park operators are flexible, why should we be forced to negotiate an afternoon checkout every single time we camp? Negotiation can grow tiresome, and it makes some people uncomfortable.
I’d like for families to know they can go camping with the confidence they can enjoy their final morning at the campsite.
S.C. Okie, LOL I am with you on the wet noodle lashes!
And it’s a good question — where did the 11AM checkout time come from? I think you are correct in that it’s origins are hotel related. But when you think about it, even most HOTELS offer a later checkout time! It’s patently ridiculous that a campground should force campers off the property at 11AM.
Personally, I would rather stay in our Airstream than in a hotel. I think the RV industry would benefit by touting a 2PM checkout time as one of the upsides of RV travel.
The collective goal should be to encourage more RV camping — not to run paying customers off the property at some arbitrary time.
Thanks John & Teri, you raise an important consideration! There are many among us who are physically disabled. For these folks, the process of breaking down camp is more burdensome. The 11AM checkout time places needless stress on handicapped campers.
The process of breaking down camp is no joke. As we all know, it’s a fair amount of work. Having a few extra hours to do the work makes life so much more pleasant.
Thanks Jack, and I agree with you about arriving before dark. Really, I probably shouldn’t have included the bit about arrival time in the article because it distracts from the core issue: departure time.
At the Malibu RV park, for example, we stayed for 2 weeks spending almost $2000 — yet they still saw fit to hurry us off the half-empty campground.
I agree that most park owners and operators are reasonable. However, a few bad encounters with the unreasonable ones can really leave a sour taste in one’s mouth.
My contention is that the industry as a whole would benefit from a later checkout time because it would encourage more families and young people to camp. It would also encourage more weekend campers, since it would allow the full enjoyment of Sunday morning.
We live at an rv park. We have been here for 7 years. We are waterfront and so sites around us are popular. I have little overall experience with the rv industry but it would seem appropriate to me for guests and owners to talk about these things in advance of the stay to work something out. Rules are rules are rules but these are tough business times and people go to great expense and sometimes really have a hard time saving money for a special trip. Many people work and if they travel a distance they can’t arrive before dark. I would think it would be ideal if the park owners could cut individuals slack if and when they can. That way, they help themselves to secure repeat business and verbal good will. RV people do discuss parks and in traveling around the country a good reputation means a lot. Where cabins are concerned, this is harder, but rv sites are a different bag. In the middle of the summer we do have people pulling in right behind someone pulling out but that is only a matter of months during the year. It would seem that the rest of the time could be somewhat negotiable.
Whom is the clown that started the 11:00 A.M. check-out time, anyhow??? Someone——–please———give that individual 50 lashes across the forehead with 2 dozen wet noodles with somewheat chex tied on the ends! ! ! :):) That should scar up their forehead real good! ! ! 😉 Did the campgrounds pick it up from the hotels/motels? I can agree with the 2 p.m. checkout time. At the Sesquicentennial State Park, near Columbia, S.C., on U.S. #1 Hwy, the Rangers will most generally allow late departures. (Voice of experience). I don’t know about the rest of them, but “Sesqui” will most generally try to work with the campers. In our years of camping, only one cg was totally UNSAT. We had a ‘tent-camper’, i.e., “pop-up”, and had our children with us. We had stopped at a campground right next to the interstate, (40 perhaps), and the place was TOTALLY loaded with mosquitoes! ! ! ! Don’t remember the check-out time, but that the ‘skeeters’ added insult to injury! I do think that it was 11 a.m. I have found that if you ask for a slightly late departure, most management(s) will do their best to work with the campers. 🙂 Just my 2 cents worth. “Okie” 🙂
JOHN& TERI BENWELL
I am HANDICAPPED(ALS) and 11:00 is very hard for on us to check out- I believe a 1: 00 pm checkout would be ideal. JOHN B.
It has been my observation that most campers do like to travel in the morning hours and arrive before dark. If you do have a mechanical failure, you might have time to facilitate a repair better during daylight and business hours, and daylight might favor your personal safety.
Arriving at a park before dark provides you with the luxury of looking around and enjoying the campground and surrounding area. If you are not staying more than one night and you do not want to enjoy the area, then staying at a Wal-Mart is probably an option you should consider. Additionally, most campers do not stay inside their unit working in the morning hours. I do think there should be exceptions for late arrivals, such as arriving after dark because of weather, traffic, and breakdown delays. It is not acceptable to regularly arrive at a camp site after the campers already at the park have retired for the evening.
Like most things in life, communication is the key. Know the policies of the park before you arrive. If you have special requests, ask if the park can accommodate them. If the park does not have another guest assigned to your site immediately upon your departure, ask if you can depart late. If the park where you plan to stay is unable to make your stay acceptable, let them know you will be staying somewhere else. I have recently had the experience of being told I had to leave a park (upon my arrival) because the departing party still had not broken down their campsite in preparation to leave. The campground did not have a large enough holding or staging area at the entrance for me to park my rig while I waited. They were going to “help” me get turned around so I could go back down the winding mountainous roads and wait in town at a grocery store parking lot while the late sleeping camper did his thing. Needless to say, my rig stayed parked at their front porch until they moved the late sleeper out.
Always be courteous to other campers. This is one of the elements that make the camping lifestyle so appealing and enjoyable. Motorhoming, RVing, or Camping… whatever you chose to call it – it is not hoteling, and hopefully never will be.
I have been following the LLH for a long time now, and generally agree and enjoy most of your posts. Keep up the good work. We really enjoy the blog and videos.
catchesthewind, I agree completely. Often campers who arrive late do not do so by choice. There are many factors that affect arrival time (traffic, weather, accidents, mechanical problems, etc.). And in any event, arrival time really shouldn’t determine checkout time.
Some people have reacted as if the notion of a 2PM checkout time is unthinkable, when it actually works very well in many State parks, national parks, and 5-star RV resorts.
Tom, I think that’s a good idea. Most hotels — even though they have maid crews coming through to clean rooms — have a late checkout option. It doesn’t cost the guest any more, but it extends checkout time just a bit. As a business traveler, this has helped me at times when flights have been canceled or delayed, etc. Of course, I’d prefer the RV campground checkout time be extended up front, just to clarify the policy from the outset. Plus, I think it would encourage families to take more weekend camping excursions.
I vote for a 2 pm checkout time. As for late night arrivals yes they are an annoyance but many were the times I didnt check in until dark because of flats or mechanical problems. As for me if a camper arrives beside me after dark I will do what I can to assist and try to minimize the disruption.
Further thought: how about a policy and advertising that states: “Checkout time is [say] 12NOON, but if you need a later time, we may be able to accommodate you if you ask when you reserve or check in.”
Wordy, to be sure . . .
Thanks Teri & Mark, it has been interesting and welcome to hear from campground owners in this post.
When I think of memorable RV parks we have visited over the years, I am reminded of West 40 RV Park in Shamrock, Texas (along Route 66). When we stayed there it wasn’t too busy or crowded. The same owners (the Schlegels) have operated the park for some 40 years. We had a wonderful experience! And quite honestly, I don’t remember the official checkout time. I do remember that when we were there, we never felt rushed or hurried off the property. In fact, I did a lot of Internet work in the AM, we had a nice lunch, and then we rolled out of the campground in the afternoon.
Here’s a video we did at the Schlegels campground. If they had rushed us off the property we probably wouldn’t have done the video. But they were ideal campground owners & hosts.
In contrast, I remember passing through a small town in New Mexico. We stopped late one night at a nearly empty private campground. At 11AM the next morning, a rude park employee was rapping on our door to run us off the property. We were one of two RVs on the property, yet they insisted we must be gone by 11AM. This sort of experience drives RV travelers to Walmart. Why pay to be hassled?
Wow, great, polite comments (with a couple of exceptions). I like High Plains’ approach: ask. We are always aware of checkout time and abide by it as it usually works with whatever we do, but we do tend to be night owls and subsequently later sleepers. For early checkout times, I always ask if they would mind if we made it a bit later and add the caveat “Unless you’ve got someone coming in right behind us.” That has worked well so far and I don’t remember any refusals.
Now for those 5AM checkouts: you may not mind, Sean, but I do, at least for those that have to leave their big engines running for half an hour while they — do what for that long? As far as I am concerned, any extensive noise before 8AM is in the same category as extensive noise after 10PM.
Finally, I would like to entreat y’all to stop using the term “nazi” for anyone whose actions are deemed unpleasant. The term is grossly overused, but more than that, when used for people that are merely unpleasant, that tends to bring the assessment of the real Nazis UP to the level of “unpleasant” instead of down at their actual level of “evil.” (JMHO)
Keep up the good work! (I Like the hat!)
Thanks High Plains, and I agree with you that most RV park owners are accommodating. I guess my contention is that the original POLICY of the park should be accommodating, so that we individual campers are not forced to beg forgiveness because we want to have lunch in the campsite for which we have paid.
I mean, why not bump checkout time a little later, so as to alleviate any question? If I owned an RV park, I would want it to be a welcoming haven for RV travelers. Happy campers = repeat business = more money.
Early checkout times are guaranteed to repel young professionals and families. As someone has said in this thread, we have to crawl out of bed early five days a week — why should we be forced to do so on Sunday morning when we are camping? The policy drives away paying customers.
Thanks Lani, I know that you and your husband have dealt with these issues “on the front lines” while you are traveling around the country, full-timing in your Airstream. (Everyone should check out Lani’s great blog at AluminumBliss.com).
I think there’s a bit of a generational schism here. Older retirees are generally up and ready to go early in the AM. They have no issues with morning checkout times. But again, I keep coming back to the fact that a later checkout time does not hinder an early departure. Those who want to leave early may do so!
But younger professionals and families are burdened by the early AM checkout times. They are a disincentive to stay at a campground. I know there have been many times when Kristy and I have stayed at Walmart instead of private campgrounds simply because we didn’t want to be rushed out of town the next morning. This is a loss for us (because we end up staying on a slab of no hookup asphalt) and it’s a loss for the local campground (that misses the revenue).
Teri & Mark
Sean and Family,
My husband and I are Campground owners of Hidden Valley RV Park near San Antonio, TX. We have a noon check out and 1pm check in. We are small and only have 30 sites (of varying types and sizes) and many return visitors. These return visitors reserve specific sites and often NEED a particular type of site, (50 amp, pull thru, by the creek, etc) I am happy to let a current guest remain during the afternoon hours but if I do have a reservation on that site I need to have it available when that new guest arrives. I don’t believe that any of my guests would ever consider me a “campground Nazi.” I firmly believe that if you make your desire known when you reserve or arrive at most campgrounds, you would find they are happy to accommodate you by putting you in a site where no reservation is pending and in my case, I even do my best to keep from reserving the site in question when I know a camper wants to overstay.
I really can’t believe all the hubbub over this issue as I’ve never had a problem with it, either as a camper or a campground owner.
Come see us Sean…we’ll let you stay till 2pm…just remind me when you reserve.
High Plains Camping
(Dare I chime in again?) Speaking only from my overnight park’s perspective (realizing there’s rarely 2 parks alike) here’s life at this park:
1. For the fall, winter, and early Spring, I don’t even open the office until 3 p.m. because when I wake at 7 a.m. my park is already practically a ghost town. The driveway remains empty until late afternoon.
2. I’m not a weekend getaway location. I’m an overnight park for people who have a long journey. The main reason people ask if they can stay past 11 is to attend Sunday church services. I always agree and don’t charge an extra fee.
3. In the heat of summer (when temps are in the triple digits) I have a number of guests who register at 10 a.m. or 11 or noon and then depart at 10 p.m. because they want to drive in the coolness of night. I always accommodate their travel habits. (I even have 1 repeat guest who always arrives at 8 a.m.)
4. The primary reason for a check out time at all is for the few RVers who abused the system. Remember, most rules are created after someone has taken advantage of a rule-less system. When a very FEW registered at 8 a.m. paid for 1 night, and departed at 8 p.m. the next night, that’s abusive. So a rule was created. Since the park is empty by 10, if not 8, then 11 seemed like a dandy number. After 8 summers, and a handful of requests to stay later (all granted), why change the rule? No one told me it was offensive … until this blog.
I still believe most park owners are accommodating. MOST people don’t invest their life savings and their blood, sweat & tears so they offend their customers.
Before buying the park, we were full timers and we ran into a few of the rigid ones. Likewise, as a park owner I’ve run into a few of the rigid RVers. Rigid people exist. That’s life. Some even return … just to drive you crazier!
But for the most part 99% of my guests are great people, and most park owners are great people and can be accommodating.
This is excellent dialog. Very informative. I hope to use some of the thoughts when our park owners meet in our round-table discussions. Very informative and helpful, indeed. Wish my blog had generated even 1/3 this participation (but I guess they aren’t as interesting blogs). Nearly all my surveys and questions have gone unanswered … or at least statistically too few to be truly valid.
SO, THANK YOU! Thanks for having opinions and finding a platform to express them.
I agree with and am always appreciative of the 2pm checkout. For us, it is because we work and a flexible checkout time is just easier for our schedule. We try to stay primarily at state parks, for price reasons and often times, they offer later checkout times. I have stayed at RV parks that were very flexible and allowed us to stay past their early checkout time. I am always very appreciative of those parks that work with us.
Janice, I like that idea too! To me, relaxation is what RV camping’s all about. An afternoon checkout time really facilitates an enjoyable experience on that day of departure.
And isn’t it interesting how you remember that specific Indiana State park because it had a nice checkout policy?
LOL Dan, your vote has been registered.
This is an interesting topic because it has elicited so many different perspectives. There are clearly two trains of thought, but I think an afternoon checkout would benefit the most people, most of the time.
I remember an Indiana State Park where checkout was at 2 except on Sundays and Holiday and then is was 4 p.m. — I liked that idea!!
after reading all the pro’s and con’s voiced here, i vote for a 2 pm checkout time.
Thanks Larry, and here again I’ll put in a plug for Lake-in-Wood Resort in PA. Here’s one of the FINEST RV campgrounds in the United States… It scored a perfect “10” in Trailer Life and a 5-Star rating from Woodall’s… and it has a 2PM checkout time.
Yes, we tend to be night owls, but often I am up early anyway. But when we are doing our major “Long Long Honeymoon” road trips, I WORK in the morning from our Airstream. The 11AM checkout times really disrupt that work.
Over the past three years we have stayed at every type of campground imaginable. Other than Disney, I honestly haven’t seen a lot of cleaning being done to the sites between guests. Sure, grass needs to be mown, but that usually happens on a regular schedule anyway.
Yes Roger, many State parks apparently have a 2PM checkout time. Perhaps not coincidentally, many campers rave about the experience at State parks! Coincidence? Maybe not…
Thanks George, and yes I could live with 1PM. I prefer 2PM, but 1PM is better than noon or (heaven forbid) 11. This way, families with children could still enjoy a morning and lunch at the campsite before departing.
I beg to respectively differ Sean. That may be true in the majority of campgrounds you use but the majority of campgrounds I use and the one I reference in particular need some time to “fluff” the sites. I don’t care what time you arrive but I do hear a lot of compalints about people setting up after dark. We usually stay at least two weeks. If the prior folks stayed any length of time the site will need mowing. They take a lot of care and spend a lot time making sure grass is maintained on the sites so I can walk around in my bare feet. It appears to me our problem is I’m an early riser and you like to sleep in. If we all liked the same things we’d have to stand in line to do them.
Frank, as I stated above (and clarified in the article), it really shouldn’t matter WHEN you arrive.
If early checkout times are crucial to campground operation, why do so many State parks and RV resorts have afternoon checkout times? For example, Lake-in-Wood Resort in PA receives a perfect “10” score in Trailer Life — it has a 2PM checkout time. http://www.lakeinwoodcampground.com/index.html
This may be an issue where we are balancing the convenience of campground hosts against the convenience of paying customers. I don’t see how moving checkout time a little later in the day would totally upset the apple cart. It might, however, lead to more satisfied weekend campers and increased business for the campground.
Here in Iowa, at the state parks, check-out is 2 pm. I guess I can understand a 11am check-out, if you are a motel! Wow!!
I agree, Sean. Checkout time should be later. At least noon if not 1:00.
I would suggest that you volunteer as a campground host and it will become very clear why the early checkout times are important. If you want to arrive at 10PM then camp at WalMart and let the real campers enjoy the quiet of the campground.
Thanks Larry, in the MAJORITY of campgrounds the majority of the time, there will be no conflicts. The 2PM checkout time would work like it ALREADY does in many State parks and RV resorts today. I mean, there are ALREADY numerous State and Federal parks and campgrounds that have a 2PM checkout time. It’s not exactly a radical idea.
And guess what? With an afternoon checkout time, on the morning you DEPART from you favorite site, you can have a nice breakfast and enjoy the site for which you paid.
If I’ve made my reservation for my favorite site on our coast In November for June and August of the next year and you’re sitting there when I arrive and I have to wait until you’re finished working and hitching I may be a wee bit peeved…..fuming to myself but peeved none the less.
Stan, we’ve stayed at a few campgrounds with a similar policy. We loved it! Having the freedom to leisurely roll out of a campground in the afternoon (should you choose to do so) really enhances the RV travel experience. It’s especially beneficial for families and “location independent professionals” who work from their RV.
I am on the board of directors of a local tractor (steam engine) show here in N.E. Iowa. We have public camping on our property. When a camper checks in they pay per “night”. We don’t care what time they leave, 11am or 6pm. But if the camper stays another “night”, then pay for another night.
Bob, obviously I’m not proposing a checkout time of “3PM, 4PM, or just anytime you feel you want” — I’m proposing 2PM, which is a big difference, and works well for many State parks and RV resorts.
Since you yourself state that you “ALWAYS” have people (PAYING CUSTOMERS, right?) who find the 11AM checkout time inconvenient, doesn’t this indicate that an afternoon checkout time would be preferable?
I mean, if I owned and operated a campground, I would VALUE my paying customers — those are the people whose money puts food on my table. I would want them to have a great camping experience, START to FINISH. What’s it to me if they want to enjoy a pleasant morning in the campsite FOR WHICH THEY HAVE PAID?
Yes, the Malibu RV Park employee hurried us along, too. The next year, our $2000 hurried into another campground’s coffers. If you want to hassle your paying customers that is your choice, but I don’t think it’s wise from a business standpoint.
Patty, I love the “late checkout” option and wish more campgrounds offered it. We have camped at Oak Mountain, by the way – it’s a beautiful RV park!
Gee, why not make the checkout time 3pm..or maybe 4pm….or just anytime you feel you want to leave.
Give me a break.
At Fort DeSoto County Campground outside of St. Petersburg, Fla. the checkout time is 11am with checkin 1pm. We ALWAYS have people that think 11am means “I guess I should think about leaving in a couple of hours”
The one o’clock check in finds the site still occupied and complains to us, we go down to the site and the rver gets all upset because he is FORCED to move BEFORE HE feels like moving.
Very inconsiderate people and I ENJOY waiting at the site and hurrying them along.
11am is a good time to checkout. Why make people wait because you want to take your time?
Scott, with regard to noise, it’s a separate issue, but you are right. We all should be more sensitive to others in the campground with regard to the noise we create. I try to minimize the time our diesel engine is running, etc.
When we are sleeping, we typically use a “white noise” sound app (on our iPhones) that helps to mask any outside noise. Once you grow accustomed to it, your noise problems will be minimized.
Back to the core point, I agree that a later checkout time is a “win-win” for everybody. I think it would be especially useful for campgrounds wanting to attract more weekend business. If I owned a campground, I’d advertise & promote the later checkout time, and encourage people to come enjoy a RELAXING WEEKEND, complete with an enjoyable Sunday morning.
Don, I think you are probably in the minority in thinking that 11AM is too late.
If you are an early morning person, that’s fine. I don’t care if someone wants to rise at 4AM and be gone before sunrise. In fact, the early departures free up campsites for early arrivals.
There will be times when early arrivals are inconvenienced because there’s no available campsite, but I suspect that for the MAJORITY of parks the MAJORITY of the time, this won’t be a problem.
Wow! This sure sparked a lot of comments. To me, a later checkout time makes for happier campers and repeat business for the campground — a “WIN-WIN” for both sides.
Although this is changing the subject, there is a common problem with SOME late arrivers and early risers. Their loud banging and hollaring while setting up or breaking camp jars many sleeping campers from their slumber and ruins the serenity of the campground. This is worsened by excessive illumination and long running engines. Quiet time does not seem to apply to these noisy folks. Any ideas to lessen this disturbance? Frankly, I just wait them out, but that doesn’t help me get back to sleep.
Joe, I agree that campground owners are somewhat caught in the middle when trying to balance different interests.
For the “early riser” crowd, if you want to leave your campsite at 5AM that’s fine with me. Just because a campground offers a 2PM checkout time doesn’t mean you have to use it. Leaving your campsite early will just free it up for the next person.
For those weekend campers who would like to stretch Sunday out a little longer (and we are in that category), here is another option. When you check in at the state park in our area–Oak Mountain State Park in Alabama–you can request late-day check out. For a fee of $6, paid at check in, you can stay until 5:00 PM on your check-out day. We always take advantage of that option and feel it is very fair.
In federal parks, we have had to move between sites because we couldn’t reserve the same campground for a block of time. We wasted half a day sometimes waiting for somebody to leave. If anything, 11:00 is too late.
We travel 6 months per year (reverse snowbirds) and are among the drive early/ arrive early group. Since we typically travel the central Midwest during prime camping season, we see a lot of campground owners and workers caught in the middle between those trying to stay late and those trying to set up early. Hear a lot of campground people called “check out nazis” when all they are trying to do is satisfy two groups of people with different agendas. Many of the places we stay also have difficulty with 2 way traffic. We have been entertained many times on Sunday afternoon by late stayers leaving and arrivals coming in going different ways on a road only wide enough for one large rv. This gets especially entertaining when a motorhome is parked in the roadway trying to attach a towd. Personally, I try to avoid campgrounds with check out times later than noon.
Jim, great point about weekend camping. A 2PM checkout time is CRUCIAL for the “weekend retreat” camping experience. It allows you to fully enjoy your Sunday morning in a relaxed fashion, and depart after lunch.
An 11AM checkout time pretty much spoils Sunday morning, and disrupts the relaxation of the trip. I think it’s a big disincentive for people to take weekend RV camping trips. If I owned a campground, I’d want to lure as many weekend campers as possible, so I’d make that Sunday experience as pleasant as possible.
Dan, noon is certainly better than 11AM, but my preference is for the 2PM time that seems to work so well for many State parks. This would allow campers to fully enjoy their final morning at the campsite, and leave after lunch.
Joyce, we prefer to arrive earlier in the day also. But there are times (weather, traffic, accidents, etc.) that it just doesn’t happen.
In any event, the time of arrival really shouldn’t matter. I probably shouldn;t have included it in the article because it’s beside the point. The core point concerns that final day at the campsite, no matter when you arrived. A 2PM checkout time promotes a more relaxing enjoyable camping experience. An 11AM checkout time does not.
Richard, in theory I like the idea of the 24-hour rent.
In reality, I can see where that might place a burden on the campground owners.
To me, a 2PM checkout time meets the needs of everyone. The early risers can leave early if they wish (freeing up a campsite for an early arrival). The rest of us can enjoy our morning at the campsite and leave after lunch.
As I do not full time, only weekends and one or two weeks straight each year.
A later check out time allows me to enjoy Sunday camping rather than packing up and going home. This gives me TWO days to camp. I check in after five on Friday evening, set up, eat and relax. I hate having to pack up right after I do breakfast dishes and leave.
Our check out time is 12 noon but we always honor late check out requests for no fee. Now if it gets to be 2 pm and the incoming guest has arrived, well…….yer gonna have to move. And yes we do have “maids’ (we call them camp hosts) who sweep the slab, rake the ground and pull any emerging weeds from the site each and every time it is vacated.
I understand both sides, but we are senior citizens that spent 6 months last year traveling around the west, staying in 38 campgrounds and found very minimal late, late arrivals. We prefer not to get in after dark. It is a bit more inconvenient . Both of us are recently retired truck drivers and have no problem driving or parking a 36′ 5th wheel after dark. Maybe a suggestion would be, find out in advance what check-in and check-out times are. Nine times out of ten, you are going to find one that is ammenable to your needs. If they don’t, it seems that would not be a campground I would want to stay at anyway.
Find what the rules are to begin with and you shouldn’t have a problem. And, oh, in all those campgrounds, we never had a problem with this problem.
I think the rent should be for 24 hrs. When you stay a week you don’t have to pay extra for the other 6 days do you?
EXACTLY, Sara… An 11AM checkout time is not relaxing. It’s a big disincentive for those of us who would otherwise enjoy a weekend camping excursion. Why not be allowed to relax and enjoy your Sunday morning?
A 2PM checkout time allows you to enjoy the morning, and have a final lunch at your campsite before heading home.
If it works well for State parks, why not for private campgrounds?
John, if you’ll check the article I stated that we’ve checked in after 10PM on “a couple of occasions” — that’s after camping for three years, traveling over 40,000 miles.
It’s really beside the point and (fair warning) I may delete it from the article because it is irrelevant. REGARDLESS of when you check in, I believe check out time should be 2PM.
If you want to get up and leave early, that’s fine! It just frees up a site for “early check in” arrivals. A 2PM checkout time would not prevent you from leaving anytime you desire.
Ron, we are also going to make it a point to inquire about checkout time when book sites.We’ve had to do that hectic morning scramble too many times, and it’s not relaxing or fun (and it’s made even worse when a campground employee hassles you!). I’m going to confirm checkout time over the phone, and AVOID campgrounds with early checkout times.
LOL Patty, even though we are coming at this issue from different perspectives, I think we’ve arrived at the same conclusion.
I agree with your point about flexibility. From my perspective, I’d like to see a 2 PM checkout time be the industry standard… and allow for EARLY CHECK IN for folks who arrive at the campground earlier in the day.
This way, departing campers could enjoy their mornings and even have a final lunch at the campsite before hitting the road.
Wow, so many people actually LIKE 11:00 a.m. checkout?!?!? Sorry but I have to eat breakfast in the morning or I’m ready to pass out by noon – I also like to shower and drink my coffee and walk my dogs. I have to get my butt out of bed every morning at 6:00 a.m. to go to work in a corporate office. Why why WHYYY, would I ever want to do that when I’m on vacation?!?!? Don’t tell me that anyone can get up at 9:00 a.m. and do all of the above and break camp, hitch up and get out by 11:00 a.m. Vacation is for relaxing……. 11:00 a.m. checkout – not relaxing.
CJ, I hear ya about winter days and camping. In the case of early arrivals, campgrounds could have “early check in” and place those folks in available sites.
Again, the 2PM checkout time works well for many State parks — why not for private parks?
Ted, I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned the 10PM check in time because that’s a rare exception for us also. I was just using it to spotlight the absurdity of the 11AM checkout time, but it’s beside the point. REGARDLESS of when you check in, I think you should have a 2PM check out time.
Thanks Jerry, we will check out the Missouri State parks.
And thank you for strengthening the point – if State parks operate quite well with a 2PM checkout time, why can’t this be the industry standard?
Rob, our general goal is to arrive at a campground earlier in the day — if for no other reason than we like to relax in the evenings, too. But sometimes life doesn’t work out that way (flat tire, highway traffic accident, bad weather, etc.).
In any event, IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT TIME YOU ARRIVE – the focus here is on CHECKOUT TIME, or time of DEPARTURE. In the Malibu case I cite above, we had been in the campsite almost two weeks.
And by the way, the pejorative you mention certainly applies to those who use crude profanity on the Internet. Cheers! 😀
Bruce, you make another great point — a later checkout time allows a family to ENJOY that final day at the campsite. You can have a more relaxed morning (preparing to break camp, etc.) and then enjoy lunch together as a family. Then you roll out of your site after lunch.
We like the 11:00AM checkout times, they work with our schedules. Don’t know where you camp but where ever we are they sites have always been cleaned and raked. I wouldn’t want to set up after 10:00pm, it would be rude to disturb fellow campers at that time of night. Let us know where you’ll be camping and we’ll be elsewhere.
We travel about 12 weeks out of the year. We do this so that we can cycle various parts of the country. We ride about 200 – 250 miles a week on our road and tandem bikes. As you can imagine we like to ride early, cooler, so we always ask for a late checkout. By the time we get back from a 3 hr. ride shower and hookup well yes we are late for a normal checkout time. Most, and i say Most will work with us. I now make a point of asking as i book our sites, and explain why.
Good point of discussion, keep up the blog. Thanks, Ron
Okay, here’s someone with a different point of view. I prefer early checkouts. My husband and I are not night owls, and we do not sleep in. An 11:00 AM check out gives us sufficient time to eat a relaxing breakfast, clean up, and be on our way. Of course, that is not the reason I prefer early checkouts because we could leave early regardless of check out times. But we like to check IN early so that we can have an entire day for playing. I remember one campground that had a 12:00 noon check in. We arrived at 11:00. Although the spot we had reserved was already vacated, they would not allow us access to the spot because “check in time is 12:00 noon.” Not only that, but they wouldn’t let us wait on the grounds. We had to actually drive off the property and go to a grocery store parking lot across the street to wait out that hour before check in. This incident happend about 6 years ago, and I wrote a review on a website at that time referring to these campgrounds owners as “camping nazis.” LOL Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that there is not a check out/check in time that is agreeable with everyone. Perhaps campground owners could be a little flexible and work with individual campers. I’m sorry but the argument that they have a lot of housecleaning to do just doesn’t wash with me. Been at waaay too many campgrounds where I see one camper pull out and another pull in shortly thereafter with absolutely no clean up done. The most clean up I’ve seen is someone drives up on a golf cart, glances at the site from their seated position, and maybe a couple of times I’ve seen them get out and pick up a piece of rubbish that is lying around. Never, never, never seen anyone sweeping anything. And mowing takes place at all hours of the day. Sean, your point about free alternatives, like Walmart, is so spot on. Here’s another experience I would like to share. We were going to make an overnight stop. We planned to arrive at about 9:00 PM and be on the road by 8:00 AM the next morning. I emailed a privately owned campground in the area and explained my situation. I told him/her that although there was a Walmart in the area that we could park for free overnight, I preferred to support small park owners. Would he/she consider a reduced rate since we would be there less than 12 hours. I didn’t even receive the courtesy of a response. Sean, thanks for your blog.
I personally think that the 11 am check is good especially in the winter. If the incoming guest has much set up to do they will need the time when it gets dark by 4:30 in some parts of the country. If the park operator has no one reserving that spot thats one thing but I do like to get an early start when I am going camping to familarize myself with the area. I can break camp a lot quicker than I can set up. JMHO
I can’t believe anybody wants to check out late and drive in the heat of the day or the dark of night.
I also don’t appreciate people checking into a park at 10 pm.
I might be wrong but I think most rv’ers want to get on down the road early.
Why have a checkout time at all? We tend to travel on Mondays and Thursdays so we have more good sites to choose from when pulling in.
As a camper, we certainly understand that regular maintenance must occur and it doesn’t annoy us. It seems to me that there is rarely a daily clean-up crew so schedules could be set for less busy times.
Try our Missouri State parks, their check out time is 2PM.
QUOTE “we checked into a campground for an overnight stay at 10PM. The next morning, some guy in a golf cart was rapping on our door to boot us off our site by 11AM.” UNQUOTE
There’s your problem. Change your hours of operation. People who drive into a camprgound at 10pm usually get the term “campground assholes”
Mike, we plan to visit Michigan next year, and will definitely appreciate those 1PM checkout times.
You make a GREAT point about weekend trips. In the example you cite, it sounds like the person spends the majority of the weekend either setting up or breaking down camp – LOL That seems tiresome to me, too.
I think that campground owners/operators would benefit by considering the perspective of the camper. An extra 2 or 3 hours on checkout day actually impacts THE DAY BEFORE… Having some extra time to checkout on Sunday translates to a more relaxing and enjoyable Saturday. You can enjoy Saturday evening because you’re not worries about being hassled the next morning.
The whole point of camping is to be able to relax and spend time with family and friends. More enjoyable weekends means happier campers which means more repeat business for campgrounds.
As the parents of five, we wholeheartedly endorse your position on late checkouts. We all tend to be night owls, so sleeping in isn’t a luxury–its a necessity. Setting a late checkout would beneift our family, and we’ve never understood the 11AM “be on your way” deadline. Your comments regarding maid service are spot-on.
While I appreciate @HPC’s work ethic, we have experienced the 8AM wakeup call with the riding lawnmower. We can understand the need to maintain the campground, particularly in the busy season; however, do you really have to start making noise at 8AM? Can you push it back to 9AM and allow us lazy folks another few moments of shut-eye?
Great rant, and thanks for letting us pile on!
Come to Michigan! State campgrounds have a 1 p.m. checkout time (and we could use the money).
I wholeheartedly support late checkouts. I don’t understand why someone would get up at dawn on Sunday morning to break camp, usually preceded by packing up 96% of their stuff the night before. Not a very relaxing way to end the weekend.
A member of our camping group does this every time we’re out, proudly stating he can get home, clean the RV, take it to the storage lot, and be home by noon.
High Plains, thanks for your comment. It’s nice to hear from someone “on the other side of the fence,” so to speak.
With regard to campgrounds, over the past few years we’ve seen the gamut. Disney World’s Ft. Wilderness is the only place we’ve stayed that extensively cleans every site after a guest departs. (I’m not saying there aren’t others; but that’s the only one that comes to mind.) The majority of campgrounds offer minimal cleanup, if any, to vacated sites.
In any event, I don’t see how a 2PM checkout time would make campground & campsite cleaning impossible. It would simply shift checkout time three hours later.
The 2PM checkout would allow existing campers to enjoy a full morning & lunch in the campsite for which they have paid. Plus, it would afford crucial time to those who work from their RV.
If new arrivals show up early, they could simply do an early check-in to an available site.
I’m reminded of our experience in California’s Malibu RV Park, where we stayed two weeks in 2007, paying over $100 per night. They have a noon checkout time. On the day of our checkout, we had our rig hitched and ready to go. My wife was taking a shower. It was 11:45 AM. A lady in a golf cart arrived at our site, knocked on our door, and curtly told us we “had better move it” and be gone by noon. THE CAMPGROUND WAS 75% EMPTY and had been all week.
There have been many times that we’ve chosen to “overnight park” for free at Walmart instead of paying to be treated poorly by campgrounds. Again, we’d gladly pay to stay at a campground, but not if that means a stress-filled experience and being hassled by employees.
In the end, it’s the campgrounds that lose revenue because of these policies. In 2008 we returned to Los Angeles. We chose not to stay at that Malibu park. So that campground lost about $2000 of revenue because of its ridiculous checkout time and overzealous employees.
In the future, we intend to establish checkout time with campgrounds in advance. We will avoid campgrounds with early AM checkout times.
Thanks again for your comment! I appreciate your perspective.
High Plains Camping
Most of my park owner friends are understanding of your situation when informed of it upon registration. At my park, I typically grant the extension with no extra fee … or a very minimal fee … but need to know of your plans so I can plan accordingly.
Sometimes my guests begin arriving as early as 11 a.m. so they can spend the day doing things in the local area … or working all afternoon as you prefer to do in the morning.
Sometimes it’s that my mowing crew needs to know. As an overnight park that empties out, we prefer to mow when the park is empty so we don’t annoy anyone.
Most parks actually have “maids” who clean the firepits and campsites after guests depart.
My park looks empty in the late morning, but that’s when my crew spreads out like little munchkins tending to a billion chores, maintenance, and repairs made while no one is around. Then we change outfits and stand with smiles on our faces to greet the new arrivals.
Anyone staying later … no problem … but it does make a difference to the dance we do that the guests rarely see us do.
I recommend you just calmly and politely see if staying past 11 will be acceptable given your situation. Most park owners are accepting … and when they can’t accommodate your request it’s because of things you probably can’t see from the guest perspective.
(OK, we all know there are some park owners … just like some guests … who are challenging to work with … but for the most part most guests and most park owners are very enjoyable and agreeable people.)