It is very possible to start and operate a lucrative RV park in the United States, but you have to understand that the primary determining factor when it comes to how successful your RV park can be, is how well it’s designed.
RV park designs are known to feature a wide range of things, from location to parking pad dimensions, weather, adherence to regulatory codes, cost, upkeep, amenities, and more.
While it can prove to be fun, you would want to design a location that offers travelers the right space to rest and recharge while exploring the beauty of the United States.
Before designing an RV park, you must put yourself in the shoes of your customers. Your guests want to have enough space for their RV without feeling like they are on top of each other. To add to the appeal, landscaping options or the ability to add fire pits could benefit your RV Park.
Steps to Design an RV Park
Though RV parks are costly to design, permit, and construct, most new parks today are being designed for RVs. Many of the RVs are the size of fire trucks so access and maneuvering room are critical in the design of these parks.
Because of these issues, it becomes much more complicated to complete a park design while still minimizing environmental impacts to the area.
Most people would prefer their parks not resemble a shopping center parking lot. The focus should be on nature and not on roadways, so if possible use curving roads to limit long views of asphalt which will also help keep traffic at slower safe speeds.
Try to preserve as much vegetation as possible and use it as a buffer between parks and facilities. Try to keep service utilities within the roadway or pedestrian corridors. Obviously these goals are not always attainable but we should always strive for them.
The typical RV has water, sewer, electrical, and cable connections located near the rear of the vehicle on the driver’s side.
The access into the RV is on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. Many RVs also have slide-outs that increase the size of the interior space which can create problems for RVs in tight parks. Avoid these problems by addressing RV park needs during the design stage.
Location, Location, Location
Note that the very first step when it comes to designing an RV park is to choose the ideal location. You would want to go with a location that is close to well-known tourist destinations, natural attractions, or even major highways.
You need to take into account the accessibility and visibility of the location especially since they play very huge parts when it comes to attracting the right crowd.
Aside from that, you also want your location to appropriately align with all essential local zoning regulations and environmental considerations.
Layout and Amenities Planning
You must come up with the number and size of RV sites judging from market demand as well as available space. Don’t forget to incorporate vital amenities like electric hookups, water and sewage connections, picnic tables, fire pits, and trash receptacles.
Seek ways to also inculcate extra amenities such as a clubhouse, swimming pool, playground, laundry facilities, or even Wi-Fi to boost guest experience.
It is also essential you come up with a comprehensive infrastructure to support the operations of your RV park. This will more or less encompass things like constructing roads and parking pads adequate to fit varying RV sizes, further guaranteeing proper drainage to prevent flooding, and putting in place the right lighting to guarantee safety and security.
Aside from that, you must install reliable utility connections to make sure your guests have steady access to water, electricity, and sewage services.
Landscaping and Green Spaces
One of the most efficient ways to boost the aesthetic appeal of your RV park is by inculcating landscaping and green spaces.
It is recommended you plant trees and shrubs to ensure you have enough shade and privacy between RV sites. Also establish walking paths, gardens, and recreational areas to ensure that your guests can have fun, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.
Also, do not neglect the maintenance requirements as it will ensure that the landscape maintains its look all through the year.
Marketing and Management
After you have designed your RV park and it’s ready to cater to guests, it is time to shift your attention towards marketing and management. Since you would want to draw in the right crowd, you must come up with the right strategies.
Come up with a reliable online presence by putting in place a professional website and active social media profiles. Leverage online booking platforms as well as well-known advertising channels to get to the right target audience.
Aside from that, prioritize customer service and guest satisfaction to ensure you can have positive reviews as well as return business.
Tips for RV Floor Plan and Dump Station Layout
Flexible Floor Plans
You must focus on designing floor plans that are flexible enough to fit in a wide range of RV sizes and configurations. You would want to inculcate a mix of pull-through and back-in sites to ensure you can adequately deal with varying preferences and needs.
Ensure that your spacing between sites is adequate to guarantee easy maneuvering and privacy. Seek ways to leverage or inculcate angled parking or staggered layouts to boost space utilization while keeping accessibility 100%.
Dump Station Placement
You need to take great care when positioning dump stations all around the RV park to make accessibility easier from all sites.
Normally, you would want to position dump stations close to the entrance or along the main thoroughfares to reduce traffic congestion and guarantee quick navigation.
Also, remember the importance of maintaining adequate clearance around dump stations to fit in big RVs coupled with maneuvering space for vehicles towing trailers. In addition, seek ways to leverage multiple dump stations to limit wait times, especially during peak periods.
Sewage Tank Dimensions
You must choose the right size for your sewage tanks to ensure that they can adequately cater to the capacity and demand of your RV park.
Be sure to fully comprehend your local regulations and industry standards to ensure you understand the minimum requirements for sewage tank capacity depending on the number of RV sites as well as expected usage.
In addition, it is also important you make sure that tanks are adequately designed for effective waste disposal and fully fitted with the right filtration and ventilation systems to limit any form of odors or impact on the environment.
When making arrangements or designing amenities like picnic areas, fire pits, or even recreational facilities, you must pay attention to usability and comfort for guests.
Come up with picnic areas that have the right seating and space for food preparation and grilling. Be sure to guarantee that the fire pits are appropriately located away from RVs and fitted with adequate seating and firewood storage.
You would also want to put in place recreational facilities like playgrounds, and dog parks, in addition to walking trails that have the right dimensions to fit in both children and adults.
You must understand the importance of accessibility when designing RV park amenities and facilities. Start by creating pathways, parking areas, as well as amenities that are wheelchair-friendly and in line with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines.
Put in place ramps, and handrails, as well as designated accessible parking spaces to adequately fit in guests with mobility issues.
Aside from that, you must install or design accessible restrooms as well as shower facilities well fitted with grab bars, and shower heads that are easy to adjust, as well as enough space for maneuverability.
Factors You Must Consider When Designing an RV Park
i. Regulatory Codes
RV parks are tightly regulated by health departments and regulatory agencies. All will have regulations covering storm water drainage, access, traffic circulation, water and sewer services, electricity, garbage collection, and development densities.
You must always check your state and local regulatory agencies for the specific code requirements before you begin your park design.
The preferred RV park is approximately 20-ft by 50-ft in size with an adjacent 20-ft by 20-ft camp pad. These park dimensions provide enough area for the RV, a second vehicle, a table, a grill, and a fire pit.
Some smaller sites can work in an RV park but will require better management of site assignment to avoid problems with a large RV not fitting into a smaller site.
The RV sites can be straight, angled, curved, or L-shaped… however, motorhome and trailer campers will need special maneuvering considerations for the vehicle and/or the trailer.
Water, sewer, and electrical connections are typically located on the driver’s side of the camper, so the service connections should be on the driver’s side near the rear of the park.
Remember, the camper will be backing into the park so ensure the hookups are on the correct side and are protected with a bumper post or bollard that is easily visible by the driver.
Whenever possible, consider providing a few pull-through parks. Additionally, ensure there are no low overhanging tree limbs that can cause damage to the camper.
If there is a low hanging limb that cannot be removed, the low clearance needs to be signed and clearly visible. Remember, drivers always seem to focus on ground clearances and other ground obstructions and never seem to notice the overhead conflicts until it’s too late.
RV parks should be relatively level and free of rocks, roots, vegetation, and other similar obstructions. Must be well drained with any storm water being directed away from the park.
Many RVs have the ability to self-level the RV through the use of manual, electric, or hydraulic leveling jacks but the park must be relatively level to begin with… all four corners of the parking pad should not exceed 4 inches of elevation difference or 6-8 inches in extreme cases.
Note that anything greater than 4 inches will usually require the use of jack blocks to level the RV. This is because most RV jack levelers will not lift a tire completely off the ground because the tires are needed for the RV’s lateral stability.
So grade the RV pad appropriately with a consistent gradient from front to back and side to side so as to avoid twisting the RV frame. This is critical because the slide outs on RVs will not extend if the RV is not within its specified level limits.
iii. Park Access
Park access from public roads will be regulated by the county, Parrish, or the State depending on who controls the roadway where the park is located.
A turn lane or lanes may be required depending on the size of the park, the speed of the main road, the roadway gradient, number of lanes, peak hour traffic counts, and site distances.
RVs and trailers don’t decelerate quickly or make quick turns into park entrances so right-turn and/or left-turn lanes may be needed for traffic safety. Consult a traffic engineer for the improvements needed for the park access.
iv. Lane Widths
The park drives for RVs and trailers should be 20-24 feet for two-way roads and 12-20 feet for one-way roads. A good design practice is to make one-way roads that are 20-feet in width which include a 6-foot wide pedestrian walkway.
This provides RVs the maneuvering area needed to back into a park while still offering safe pedestrian access through the park.
Campers are friendly outgoing folks that enjoy meeting other campers and are very considerate in stopping and providing assistance to a fellow camper trying to get into a park. Another nice feature of 20-foot wide one-way roads is that they can become two-way roads during emergencies.
v. One-way Roads
One-way roads work very well in parks and help to increase pedestrian safety. Two-way roads can be used but extreme care must be utilized to avoid turning conflicts for parks.
One-way roads with pedestrian lanes are the preferred design since they limit conflicting traffic, provide a safe zone for pedestrians, and provide additional maneuvering room when needed.
vi. Design Speeds
Vehicle speeds must be kept slow due to the pedestrian nature of parks and local wildlife. Don’t forget that they will be used by campers of all ages; by the elderly on leisurely strolls to young kids darting in and out of the travel lanes. Most parks are posted at 5 or 10 mph.
In many cases, the sight distances are quite short due to sharp turns and may have dense vegetation screening parks which can obstruct sight distances even more.
vii. Regulatory Compliance and Environmental Impact
Be sure to understand all local regulations that have to do with RV parks, such as zoning requirements, building codes, as well as health and safety standards. Don’t forget to put in place sustainable practices to limit or entirely eradicate any environmental impact.
By complying fully with regulations and showcasing your environmental responsibility, you can develop a valid and positive reputation, which will also lead to the long-term success of your RV park.