RV showers – yours or the campground’s?

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September 23, 2009

What do you use your shower for? Showering? Or is it a storage area or a place for the ktty litter box or laundry basket?
Garden-type RV shower

When you are staying in an RV park do you still use your own shower? Or do you use the park’s showers? If so, what does it depend on?

Some RVers feel very strongly about this; they only use their own shower. Reasons mentioned are sanitation, why have a nice shower and not use it, and privacy. Others enjoy an RV park shower where you can let the water run continuously instead of taking the usual RV-Navy shower.

In the ‘89 Pace Arrow I began traveling with, the shower was the typical square tub – too small to actually bathe in. We ended up putting the laundry basket there and sometimes water jugs that might tip while traveling. It meant taking them out when showering. When we worked at a national park and had to wear uniforms, we put in an adjustable closet pole to hang our uniforms. We had access to nice showers so usually used them. If not, it meant shifting them all to the bed before showering, but it kept our uniforms accessible and from getting wrinkled. When not working, uniforms were stored under the bed.

George and I also traveled in a Lance Camper. The shower area was separate, unlike some small RVs where the whole bathroom, toilet and all, becomes the shower area. However, the Lance shower was still too small for a tall person so we used the showers in RV parks.

Newer RVs may have a garden shower instead with a door that opens and closes. They are more spacious but are harder to use for hanging clothes or for the cat’s litter box. A laundry basket or other items, though, do fit. We use our garden shower in the New Horizon much of the time – just for showering. It has a ten gallon water heater, which is quite a bit of hot water.  However, if we are in a park with only water and electric and have to dump on our way out, we will often use the facilities in the park. And, sometimes I feel like a nice long shower, so, if the park showers are clean and come close to a “10,” I’ll use them instead.

RV park showers
Showers in an RV park run the gamut from a “1” to a “10.” A “ten” shower area has

  • an enclosed and separate room with lock  for each shower
  • raised barrier and full shower curtain or door between shower and changing area
  • a separate changing area with at least three hooks and a bench
  • soap dishes or hanger for shampoo and soap
  • a raised wooden floor to change on
  • a strong stream of hot water that doesn’t run out or turn cold when someone else uses the restroom
  • iron-free water
  • several showers so you don’t feel rushed
  • and, most of all, is clean. Often there is a squeegee and antibacterial shower spray to wipe it down.
  • Plus main bathroom has mirror, counter and GFI-protected circuit for hair  dryer or razor.

On our trip to Alaska and back, we gave high ratings to showers at the Diamond M Ranch RV Park in Soldotna, Alaska and Cottonwood RV Park on Kluane Lake in the Yukon.

A shower down at the other end of the scale, in addition to missing the above, costs extra money (and turns off between quarters) and is not clean. And, of course, they run anywhere in between the two extremes.

A shower kit or bag for carrying your bath items makes using a campground shower much easier. We have chartreuse bags we received at a wedding that we use to carry shampoo, etc. A robe, if you don’t mind walking across the park in it, is easier than carrying a change of clothes or worrying that one of your clothing items will fall on the wet floor. A pair of crocs or flip flops is also essential.

How about you?
Where do you stand on this? Do you use your own shower, the RV park’s or a combination? Let us know.  Do you have other items that make an RV park shower a “10″ or a “1?” Let’s hear from you. Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

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  1. here

    Choosing a trailer tent has been the very best selection That I have ever done.
    My spouse and I really like outdoor camping but sleeping on ground
    level really was causing complications of my lower back.
    This has been resolved using a trailer tent. Blown Away!

  2. Well I guess I’m part of the 70% of people who use their own shower.
    Just can’t stand using public showers 😉
    I admit that if it’s really clean I won’t mind too much but in general I’m someone who likes to use his own stuff. It just makes me feel nice and fuzzy inside 😉

  3. Hi Butterbean, That has to be frustrating. I’ll venture a guess and say that RV manufacturers are working with a very small amount of sq ft and people spend a very small portion of their time in the bathroom. They make those as spacious as possible and short change the bathroom/shower area, especially in smaller units. It does make it difficult for a larger person.


  4. butterbean carpenter

    Howdy Jamie,
    I’ve been looking to purchase a used motorhome and have looked at quite a
    few…all of the commodes and showers in the ones I have seen are TOO SMALL
    for my 278# body.. The only showers I can fit into are the ‘corner’ showers and they are out of my price range… We have been using a travel trailer with a smallersized
    shower, but it is sufficiently large enough…
    Why don’t they put in adequate sized showers??
    This was a really good topic!!
    thank you,


  5. Wow! I had no idea. Glad your mom is ok now. I’d use my own shower after that. Thanks for the heads up.


  6. Lynne

    I used to camp in a small trailer that didn’t have a full bath, so campground showers were the only option. I never seemed to mind that– I only stayed at full-service RV parks that typically had clean, highly rated showers. But, that all changed last winter!

    My mid-60’s mother was traveling with me and we were staying at a few very nice RV parks along the Gulf Coast. As we drove home, my mom developed flu-like symptoms which turned into a month-long hospital stay (including 10 days on life support in the ICU). She had contracted Legionnaire’s Disease (a severe form of pneumonia that kills 1 in 3 who get it) from one of these very nice RV park showers!

    Legionella bacteria typically turns up in commercial hot water systems found at hotels, campgrounds, water parks, etc if the system is not properly sanitized and cared for by the owner or HVAC maintenance company. It only becomes life-threatening if a person happens to aspartate (slightly choke on) the infected warm water vapor and get it down into their lungs. Smokers’ are much more prone to this than non-smokers (which explains how my mom got it and I did not). The CDC and doctors I spoke to said that Legionnaire’s has become more common in recent years, but not as concentrated or a publicized as when it first was named back in the ’70’s for the group of conventioners who got it at a hotel.

    This whole fluke of an experience has now made me question even the nicest-looking RV park showers & hot tubs in the future– sure, it most likely is perfectly safe and clean, but why even take the risk? So this year, I’ve bought a new RV with it’s own shower.

  7. Johnny G...AKA The NYC Castaway

    With the prices of propane, we prefer to use the Parks shower to save on propane fuel.

  8. carverant

    we have a SunLite truck camper and have never used it, we always use the parks! We have a nice cardboard dresser in our shower and gives us lots of storage’ We are rarely in a place long enough to hook up the sewer except to dumpit so park showers are fine for us though we do use “crocs’ for our feet.

  9. For your next RV you’ll be better able to judge whether or not the shower is adequate. A shower caddy is an excellent idea if you’ll be using campground showers. I like the idea of drilling holes in it so it will drain.


  10. kellie

    I have a class c and thought I had checked out the shower before I bought it but it really isn’t comfortable enough for a decent shower. Also, I did have carpet all over including right outside the shower and it always got wet. But I replaced that with vinyl flooring so I just lay down an extra towel. it also depends on the condition of the cg’s shower and the weather. I do keep all my shower items in a cleaning supply caddy I bought and drilled a few small holes for drainage so it is ready to grab and go or stored in shower in rig. I travel alone so it’s manageable to use my own but I spread out so can’t imagine howit would be with a traveling companion.

  11. Liz brought up a fear I have- washing/rinsing my hair and running out of hot water if I let it run continuously. For a shower without washing hair, our tanks have plenty of capacity. I actually haven’t tried to wash my hair without shutting off the water for fear I’d end up with cold water at the end!

    Hot water and grey tank capacity do affect the ability to shower, especially if you are boondocking. Grey water shouldn’t be an issue in a campground with a sewage hookup at your site.


  12. Mark & Kay Ulm

    We have a 23 ft. motorhome with a nice shower and I have never used the bath-house at a campground. I love the comfort of my own bathroom.
    I am not overly modest–I just perfer to not use public baths.
    A 6 gallon water heater has never left us short if we wait a few minutes between showers.
    I kind of have a hard time understanding why people have an RV with a perfectly good shower/bathroom and truck across the campground to use the public one.
    To each his own I guess.
    Is there something that the RV industry needs to address?
    Bigger showers? Bigger water heaters? Bigger gray tanks?

  13. Yes, Denise, I imagine everyone would want “your” shower. I had visions of you taking it back and forth each time to your RV!

    Shoes in the shower. Now there’s a thought. It is nice to wash your hair where you have plenty of water and don’t have to shut it down between soaping and rinsing.


  14. Liz Bard

    We are first timers. When we traveled with our cat in May, we put her litter box in the shower, but put a shower mat in first so it wouldn’t slide around and keep any litter out of the gray water. We also put a water bowl in there for her so if it turned over, we didn’t have a mess. We have a 2002 Winnebago with a separate toilet area that has a door so we couldn’t put it there. We used that area when we had to confine the cat to the RV when we had to get work done.

    When I took my friends kids to Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor in Arligton, TX, they used the shower to throw their shoes in (the cat box was left at home). When I asked why, they said there wasn’t room to leave them out and this way they knew where to find them.

    I usually use the facilities showers unless it is late or raining, then I do a sponge bath and don’t get my hair washed. My hair is thick and it takes too much water to rinse it, even tho I keep it short. The military showers have been nice, sometimes not very private, and the Carefree RV Resorts in Arlington and Austin, TX have been excellent with separate shower rooms.

  15. Denise from Ark

    The “warm” issue came about as a result of too many October/November showers in an old corps campground with no heat inside. Talk about a catch-22! If you went in the morning when it was busy in there, it was reasonably warm (steamy), but there was no hot water left.

    A $2 shower curtain was just one more thing to tote back and forth, so I decided to put it up once and just leave it there. The only issue was that, when the shower house was busy, I’d have to wait for “my” shower because you KNOW that’s the one everyone wanted to use.

  16. Denise, thanks- the apostrophe was the problem. I won’t do that again. I thought all the links had been fixed. I’ll call it to their attention.

    And, I do agree having a warm to hot shower is important- that should have been on my list! I would never have thought of carrying a shower curtain and hooks, but I have sure wished I had one. Some shower curtains are pathetic.

    The Lance shower was small so didn’t get a lot of use either but I’ve never had to use a “wet bath,” as you put it, Fred. I would definitely prefer most campground showers.

    Glad you guys are inventive and persistent when it comes to finding this thread!


  17. Denise from Ark

    I think the apostrophe is a likely culprit.

  18. Fred Darrow

    I also had trouble getting here from the email. I just used one of the other links to get to the blog page and then did a search for “shower”.

  19. Fred Darrow

    We have a 2003 Trail Bay 27DS. The shower/tub is moderate in size and even though the bottom of the tub is raised above the trailer floor, a domed skylight above solves any height problem. When heating hot water electricaly, one person can take a moderate shower without running out of hot water. Fire up the propane and we have no problem having enough hot water for several showers. We both prefer the comfort of our own shower.

    Years ago our ‘antique’ 22 foot trailer had a ‘wet’ bath with a hand held shower with the drain in the floor infront of the toilet. Campground baths got much more traffic from us.

  20. Denise from Ark

    One thing criteria for a good shower house that wasn’t on your list is whether or not it is WARM, (or cool, as needed) when you get out of the shower. Another, and this would probably only apply if you were in the same area for a long time, is the hardness of the water. While at a 6-month stay in SoCal, we bought a small water softener because my much-processed hair couldn’t take the hard water, so I shower in the camper if I’m washing my hair.

    The shower houses at the park where we are right now are really quite private if you time it well- showering between late morning and midafternoon. I have yet to go inside, even to use the potty at the pool, when there was another person inside.

    It IS possible, with a little extra work, to shower while still wearing a swimsuit. This helps with the modesty issue. Additionally, the final rinse after pulling off the suit is adequate to get it clean enough to wear again. I don’t usually get my hair wet at the pool, but if it only needs a rinse, I can still shower at the shower house and rinse my hair at home.

    BTW, the cat box is tall-sided rubbermaid tub instead of a regular cat box. It lives in our shower because that’s really the only place for it to go. The need to replace it post-shower is good incentive to wipe the tub dry, otherwise the water caught underneath the pan can get stinky. Wiping the tub dry after every use means it stays clean without ever needing to be scrubbed.

    The locking doors would be nice, but I have yet to find them. We mostly camp in State and Corps park campgrounds, though. In our tent days, I was happy if the shower curtain was actually wide enough to cover the entire opening. In fact, I finally started carrying an extra full-width shower curtain with cheap shower hooks on each end and in the middle, just so I’d be sure to have privacy.

    My biggest issue with using the campground shower is that, no matter how many tricks I try to make sure I got everything, I inevitably forget something important. Remembering the long list of things (crocs, bathmat, linens, clothing, and shower accessories, as well as grooming items for hair and makeup) is just not my strong point. On the rare occasion that I do remember everything, it was still a pain to gather it all up, carry it into the shower, and try to be sure that it stays dry and I stay modest through the whole procedure.

  21. Denise from Ark

    Jaime, you might not realize that your links in the newsletters and even on the RV.net website do not work. I think it has something to do with the characters at the end. I deleted everything starting with the apostrophe till the end and that was the only way I was able to get this site to open., after trying for several days and thinking someone would identify and fix the link problems.

  22. Barb, bringing your own shower mat and rug is an excellent idea. I usually keep my crocs on while using an RV park shower, but the mat would protect bare feet. Thanks!


  23. Barb Brown

    I have a 25ft 5th wheel and recently I took my first long trip of 2 weeks. I had always used my own shower but because of holding tank limitations and hot water issues I used the campground’s shower this trip. I had my own shower mat and a rug I placed outside the shower. I was quite comfortable with this arrangement and did not have to fill up the grey water holding tank and got nice hot showers. With the shower set up I was able to have my privacy also. I had the best of both worlds – my own bed and kitchen and nice, hot, private shower. I did have to plan for campground showers with the addition of a shower mat and rug for the enclosed area outside the actual shower but it was worth it!

  24. Deciding which to use- your own or the park’s- is a tradeoff. Thanks for sharing.


  25. Ellen F

    My husband uses the park facilities. I, however, prefer the privacy and cleanliness of my own shower albeit not as large as I would prefer (but since we are in our start up unit, it’s okay for now). Great subject for a blog.

  26. Tom, your Class C shower sounds like the one in the Lance camper. 🙂 Yes, actually standing in the shower of an RV before you buy it is a must. Otherwise you could not realize the ceiling was too low or the shower head positioned in the wrong place. Thanks for your comment.


  27. Thanks for your comment. Yes, basement bins are larger now, though the shower can still be convenient for some things.

    There is something about teenagers and long showers….. at least she’s not burning up your propane!


  28. TomP

    My last RV was a Class C with a separate shower. The shower was raised off the floor and about the size of a very small closet. When I purchased my current fifth-wheel RV the size of the bathroom, especially the shower, was a priority item on my wish list. The Titanium Pearl I have now has a large bathroom with glass-enclosed shower, not huge but not tiny either. One of the major perks of owning an RV is to have the hygiene and privacy of my own bathroom facilities. The need to conserve a little hot water for the end of the shower is a small compromise. I still get a decent shower with room to move around in and that’s enough for me.

  29. I thought this was an interesting article. For years my parents used their shower/tub area for storage. That was before basements became so large and accommodating.

    I’ve always used my own shower. When I owned a pop-up camper (Williamsburg by Col…eman) it had a small shower in it. I used it. My daughter who loves long, luxurious showers would don her flip-flops and use the campground’s shower.

    Then I had a Class C (Jamboree Rallye) and again I used my own all the time. Now we have a large Class A and we are full-timers. So both of us use our own shower all the time. My next one will have a seat in it though… easier for shaving legs.

    When our daughter takes a trip with us, she still prefers to use the campground shower because she really does like a 45 minute shower. Can’t do that in an RV!