Have you acquired land for your RV Park and you are in the design stage? If YES, here are 6 critical factors to consider when before designing an RV Park.
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. Though RV parks are costly to design, permit, and construct, most new parks today are being designed for RVs.
Why You Must Not Make a Mistake in the RV Park Design Stage
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.
6 Critical 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 hook-ups 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.
Americans now view RVs as a way to explore the country and take family vacations without having to pay for hotel rooms or airline tickets. Coupled with the widespread Wi-Fi and cellphone service, some people even live in RVs full time, working remotely from the vehicles as they tour the country.
These RV travelers will always need places to safely park their vehicles, but anyone getting into the business of building RV parks should make sure to think about the viability of the location they’re considering, what amenities they’ll provide, how much space they’ll need and legal requirements in their jurisdiction.
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