Can I Tent Camp in an RV Spot?

Camping is one of America’s favorite outdoor pastimes. Whether it’s to connect with nature, spend time with family, or just get away from it all, millions head out to campgrounds every year. For avid campers, investing in a recreational vehicle (RV) opens up options for comfort and convenience while camping. But for those without an RV, tent camping is a popular, affordable alternative.

The short answer is maybe. Many campgrounds do allow tent camping in RV sites, but there are also restrictions in some cases. This guide will provide an overview of the pros, cons, and logistics of tent camping in spots designated for RVs. We’ll also offer tips for how to find accommodating campgrounds and make the most of the experience. Read on to learn everything you need to know about mixing tents and RVs.

Why Would You Want To?

First, let’s explore the reasons why someone may want to set up a tent in an RV site:

Access to Amenities

RV sites are equipped with electrical and water hookups, plus access to restrooms and showers. Tent campers can take advantage of the same handy amenities when staying in an RV spot. This allows a comfortable experience without having to invest in a motorhome.

Space and Privacy

RV sites are also more spacious and private than many tent-only sites. You’ll have plenty of room to set up your tent, hangout and store gear. Less neighbor-to-neighbor proximity also allows a quieter setting.


Snagging an RV site for tent camping means faster access to campground facilities. The sites are conveniently located near bathrooms, recreational areas and other amenities.

No Reservation Needed

If the campground has vacant RV sites, tent campers can usually grab one without a reservation. This allows for last minute trips, or extending your stay.

Potential Drawbacks

However, there are also a few potential cons to consider:

  • Higher nightly rate – RV sites come with a higher nightly fee due to the utility hookups and amenities. The rate may not be justified if you aren’t using them.
  • Size mismatch – An RV site offers much more space than a tent needs. You’re paying for real estate that may get unused.
  • Less atmosphere – RV sections of a campground are often less shaded and wooded. This diminishes the outdoor atmosphere sought by many tent campers.
  • Transient neighbors – RV sites have a more transient flow of campers coming and going. You lose the community vibe of tent-only loops.

Campground Policies to Know

If you decide tent camping in an RV site meets your needs, the first step is to check the campground’s policies. While many do permit it, rules vary between locations. Here are some key policies to look for:

  • Age minimums – Some campgrounds require RVs to be under a certain age limit (i.e. 15 years) to prevent run-down appearances. Make sure your tent meets requirements.
  • Condition rules – Similarly, campsites may prohibit tents that are damaged or dirty in RV areas. Make sure yours is sturdy and tidy.
  • Registration requirements – You may need to register at the front desk and display a permit at your site, even if staying in a tent.
  • Duration limits – Many campgrounds put limits on how many nights tents can occupy RV sites, especially during peak seasons. Check ahead.
  • Number limits – There is often a limit to the number of tents allowed in each site. Understand the capacity before you go.
  • No ground fires – Open ground campfires may be banned in RV sites. Be prepared with a fire pit or grill for cooking.

Finding Accommodating Campgrounds

Once aware of the policies, next you’ll want to research campground options. Here are some tips for finding locations that welcome tent camping in their RV sites:

  • Check campground websites for their policy on tents in RV sites. This info is sometimes posted online.
  • Call ahead to speak with a campground representative. Clearly explain your tent camping plans.
  • Look for reviews from fellow tent campers on RV sites. These can reveal from experience what is allowed.
  • Privately owned campgrounds generally have more flexibility than national park or state park campsites.
  • Ask about off-season options. More locations allow tents in RV sites in their off-peak seasons.

Some of the most tent-friendly RV campgrounds include:

  • KOA – Kampgrounds of America (KOA) has over 500 locations and most permit tents in RV sites.
  • Jellystone Park – With 75+ franchise locations, the Jellystone Park chain is quite tent-accommodating.
  • Thousand Trails – This national network of over 80 private campgrounds is tent-friendly in most RV sites.

Pros of Proper Placement

Once you’ve arrived at a tent-friendly RV campground, be strategic in selecting the best site for your tent. Consider these pros for smart placement:

  • Pick a large pull-through site rather than a back-in site. This gives you more flexibility in where to place your tent while leaving access for the RV.
  • Seek out a site on the outer loop for more shade trees and separation from neighboring RVs.
  • For the most privacy, choose a site that backs up to woods rather than facing another RV pad.
  • The ends of RV rows offer more room and breathing space between neighbors.

[Inset table]

RV Site Selection Tip Benefit
Pull-through site More flexible tent placement
Outer loop More shade & separation
Backs to woods Added privacy
End sites More elbow room between sites

Camping Etiquette

Once settled into your RV site, keeping good camping etiquette in mind is important for coexisting with RV campers. Follow these tips:

  • Keep noise levels low during designated quiet hours. This includes loud music, shouting, honking, etc.
  • Supervise children to avoid disruptive running around. Have them play in designated recreational areas.
  • Avoid excessive activity or bright lights in your site after 10 pm when most RVers are in bed.
  • Don’t set up games, clotheslines or other equipment in roadways or walkways. This creates obstacles.
  • Maintain a clean site and tidy belongings. Trash attracts pests that disturb neighbors.
  • Always keep your tent zipped up tight at night. Open tents allow critters to wander through sites.
  • Be considerate with generators. Don’t run them early, late or excessively if it disturbs others.

Following basic etiquette goes a long way towards blending in with the RV community. Most will welcome you if you are respectful.

Making the Most of RV Site Amenities

One of the major perks of staking your tent in an RV site is access to the utility hookups and amenities. Take full advantage by:

  • Using RV dump stations for disposing waste water from cooking, washing, etc.
  • Plugging phones, fans, lights and other electronics into the RV electric connections.
  • Setting up a canopy, table and camp chairs in the large site space.
  • Grilling food on the RV pad without impacting grassy tent areas.
  • Taking long showers in the RV bathrooms with individual stalls.
  • Filling water containers at potable water stations for drinking and cleaning.
  • Sleeping peacefully knowing restrooms are close by if needed in the night.
  • Watching movies on laptops and tablets powered by the electric hookups.
  • Meeting new friends at centrally located RV community fire pits or recreation rooms.

Advice for a Smooth Experience

Tent camping in RV sites can be a great experience if done properly. Keep these last tips in mind:

  • Call ahead rather than just showing up. This ensures the campground can accommodate you.
  • Be flexible on timing. Weekdays and off-season provide more availability.
  • Follow all campground policies and park attendant instructions.
  • Avoid overcrowding the site. Most allow just 1 or 2 tents.
  • Bring a self-contained setup. Assume minimal to no ground fires.
  • Come with reasonable expectations. Understand RV sites function differently than tent-only sites.
  • Be social and make new friends! Both RVers and tent campers share a love of the outdoors.

The Bottom Line

Tent camping in an RV site can be a convenient, comfortable option with the right research and preparation. As with any new camping experience, embrace flexibility and communicate with campground staff. By following polite etiquette and making the most of the amenities available, tents and RVs can coexist in harmony. Spend less time worrying about accommodations, and more time enjoying nature when you take advantage of RV sites’ comforts. With an open-minded and easygoing attitude, families and groups with tents can blend right into the RV community.


Q: Are tents allowed in every RV campground?

A: No, some private RV parks enforce strict “RVs only” rules. But many public campgrounds and privately-owned, tent-friendly chains allow tents in RV sites. Always call ahead.

Q: Can I reserve an RV site in advance for tent camping?

A: At some campgrounds you can, especially during busy seasons. Others are first-come, first-served. Ask when tent camping in RV sites is permitted and whether reservations can be made.

Q: What size RV site is best for a tent?

A: Opt for a large, pull-through site rather than a cramped back-in site. This gives you maximum space for positioning your tent. Avoid sites tailored just for the smallest Class B RVs.

Q: Is tent camping in an RV site safe?

A: As with any camping, basic safety rules apply. But patrolled private commercial campgrounds are generally quite safe. Far safer than remote backcountry tent sites!

Q: What if other campers complain about my tent?

A: Be open to moving if the campground requests it. Focus on being a respectful neighbor, keeping noise and clutter to a minimum around your site.


Tent camping and RV adventuring represent two great American pastimes. With some planning and courtesy, they can intermingle perfectly well. RV sites bring access to amenities and comfort for tent campers. While tent campers bring flexibility and diversity to RV parks. Follow this guide when considering camping in an RV spot. Do your homework, embrace the experience and make new friends. Before long you’ll be a seamless member of the RV camping crew! Now get out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors.



My name is Evelyn and I started Camping The Camp to combine my love of the outdoors with my background in environmental science. I hope you’ll find helpful as you discover the joys of camping. It’s more than a weekend trip - it’s a chance to disconnect from devices, reconnect with loved ones, and make memories to last a lifetime

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