|R&T De Maris|
First, is the site large enough? Will your rig actually fit into the site, and leave you enough room to move around? How level is the site? A site that’s a little out of kilter can be handled by the use of leveling boards or with high-tech mechanical levelers, but something that’s way off level will take more time and frustration, and in some cases, be impossible to deal with.
A sloped site may be fine for your motorhome, but if you’re bringing in a fifth wheel trailer, too much fore or aft, can make it difficult, if not impossible to unhitch and then later rehitch your rig. Even for a motorhome, a site pitched to high in the rear can make it difficult to get the front end of the motorhome up high enough to compensate.
When evaluating a site, watch out for trees. In the heat, the shade of trees can be welcome, but low hanging branches can easily damage your RV roof. A torn rubber roof membrane is a sure fire way to wipe off your smile. In cooler weather, you may want more sun, both to brighten up your interior, but also to help keep you warm. If winds are expected, tree branches (even whole trees) have been known to come down in campgrounds. Look closely for dead limbs, they spell danger hanging over your head.
Other “low hangers” can cause unexpected problems. Power lines are by code to be kept at a safe height above roadways. For some reason, with time some tend to sag and hang up on taller RVs. If you’re a television or radio user, close powerlines may cause interference. And on the line of utilities, if your sleep is easily troubled by light, keep an eye peeled when parking for nearby street lights that could turn your darkness into unwelcome day.
Be cautious about parking on grass. Dry grass is fairly easy to maneuver on, but add a bit of rain water and the grass will slick up. Add more rain and the underlying earth can turn to mud. Friends of ours recall the “joy” of having to have their rig extricated from a wonderful grassy campsite at the base of a slight downhill slope. One night of rain was all it took to become firmly stuck in place.
|finchlake2000 on flickr.com|
For many, a waterfront view is highly desirable. But with waterfront property can come added hazards. A sudden rainstorm can cause rivers and creeks to rise. We once watched as a score of RVers tried to pull their rigs out of a commercial RV park after a swollen river cut loose from its banks and flooded out the park in the middle of the night. Many rigs were totally lost when water flooded far above their axles and came on inside. Check with campground hosts or locals if there’s a hint of rain in the forecast.
We’ve found that some parks are best scouted out in advance on foot or with the toad car. This is particularly true in boondocking locations or Forest Service or older National Park campgrounds. Older campground roads were often built without the foreknowledge of how BIG today’s RVs can be; tight curves, “close to the road” trees, and low hanging foliage is best seen in advance, rather than after entrapment.