With the rise of RVing popularity, many people are looking to start up an RV park but aren’t sure how much property is needed that they will require. To help you navigate how many acres are needed for an RV park, I put together this comprehensive guide that explains:
- Overall size of property you’ll need
- Size of the average RV campsite
- Average costs to build an RV campsite
- What features will keep RVers coming back
A successful RV park is possible when you start with enough acres to fit everything you need, so let’s jump right in!
What Type of RV Park Do You Want to Build?
Some RV park campgrounds cater to overnight guests, and the land needed is overwhelming and coming off the highway. In contrast, others are a camping escape with a few amenities or full-on resorts with tons of activities, pools, playgrounds, and sporting fields for shuffleboard or pickleball.
An overnight RV park is more like a parking lot and can fit in more sites on the same acre than a more standard campground that offers landscaping buffers between each campsite.
Resort RV parks will require extra acres to fit large campsites and outbuildings for the office, camp store, clubhouse, shower houses, and so much more.
All of these types of RV parks can be profitable, but fitting the type to the available land is the key to success. Here are the smallest amount of acres you’ll need to start up each type of campground:
- Overnight Campground – 2-3 acres
- Basic Campground – 5 acres
- Resort or Destination Campground – 10 acres
What RVers Expect at Overnight Campgrounds
We RVers expect to pull into an overnight campground and park on a well-lit, level pad with full hookups.
Most guests will want a clean and spacious restroom and shower facility and maybe a laundry room with coin-operated machines. Guests aren’t looking for a camp store, pool, or game room but mainly a place to recharge house batteries, fill up their freshwater supply, dump tanks, take a hot shower and get some sleep.
The RVers don’t want to feel unsafe, so providing security or a tall fence around the campground is a good idea.
While some RVing guests may stay for several nights, most will only book for a single night as the stop is only a break until they reach their final destination.
You can stack campsites about 20 feet apart for this type of RV park, so profits are easy to grow, especially since expensive amenities like a swimming pool are unnecessary.
This comes if it’s your own RV or if you’re renting an RV.
What RVers Expect at Standard Campgrounds
We always expect a standard RV campground to offer:
- Full hookups
- More spacious and private campsites
- A cement patio
- Small camp store
- Dog run
- Swimming pools in warm regions
- Laundry room
This type of RV park campground attracts people looking for needed land and a more quiet camping experience. Many basic campgrounds place campsites to fit naturally within the landscape and not stack them side-by-side.
Guests expect to sit outside their camper and read or converse without constant noise or traffic interruptions.
Most guests will be from the local region and make a weekend or week-long reservation.
Basic campgrounds are ideal for locations that offer many outside attractions that draw tourists, such as being near the beach, a large amusement park, or urban areas with lots of cultural activities. RV guests have the option to partake in local events or sightseeing for entertainment.
What RVers Expect at Resort-Style Campgrounds
RV park campgrounds that offer many activities and amenities often call themselves RV resorts or destination campgrounds because they have the land needed and are very family-oriented.
When we book this type of park, we expect it to be the final destination where we can set up camp and remain in the RV park for the duration of our trip if we so choose.
Don’t confuse the term “RV Resort” with Motorcoach Resorts, which only allow large Class A motorhomes.
Some RV resorts are on smaller tracts of land, but in general, they are huge, often with 500 or more campsites and lots of outbuildings and open grassy fields.
Guests will travel from afar and expect each campsite to include a large parking pad (to accommodate long motorhomes and travel trailers with tow vehicles). RVers will also expect a cement patio, a picnic table, a fire pit, a grill, full hookups, cable, and free Wi-Fi.
The draw of opening a resort RV park is that guests will pay a premium for their campsite but keep most of their spendable cash within the park as well by buying food, supplies, crafting classes, or paying to rent out canoes, bikes, golf carts, or even horses to ride.
Guests expect to find a large clubhouse with a full array of adult and kids activities, a well-stocked camp store, a swimming pool (plus a splash pad or full-on water park for the kids), sports courts (shuffleboard, pickleball, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes), several bathhouses, rental equipment, restaurant, large dog park, game room, playground, laundry, walking or bike paths, and more.
Most resort RV parks also have cabins they rent for non-RV guests and provide an area for tent campers.
Popular destination RV parks cram campsites very close together to increase profitability.
How Many Acres Do You Need For RV Campsites?
Most RV park planning experts suggest placing about ten campsites per acre of land.
But, since the terrain and other factors play a role in campsite development, you can expect to fit:
- 40-45 campsites on 5 acres
- 80-100 campsites on 10 acres
- 165-180 campsites on 20 acres
The more campsites you offer within an RV park, the more land you’ll need to set aside for access roads, bathrooms or shower houses, buildings to house utilities, a sewer pump station, or other basic needs.
Another deciding space factor is whether you plan to offer pull-through or back-in campsites. HINT: All RVers love pull-through lots, and ease of parking is a huge draw to secure repeat customers.
Open grassy spaces are also crucial for a good campground as the majority of RV owners have pets, especially dogs that will need exercise.
What Is the Average Size Campsite for RVs?
Most older RV campsite dimensions are 55 feet deep by 20 feet wide, or 1,100 square feet.
The campsite usually includes a 20-foot by 9-foot cement parking pad along with a roughly 10-foot by 12-foot cement patio space attached. The rest of the campsite space will be grass, gravel, or have bushes or landscaping.
A small area to the back, right-hand-side of the campsite, will hold the power pedestal, water, and sewer connections.
Most RVs require level footing for proper operation of appliances and general comfort moving about inside the camper. Having cement pads or strips underneath the RV wheels makes it much easier to level up the recreational vehicle using blocks or hydraulic jacks.
Modern RV campsite dimensions are somewhat larger to accommodate longer recreational vehicles. Not only do many RVs now reach 45 feet or more in length, but the average width has increased by six inches, and most have slides that extend around three feet.
Newer campsites are generally 80 feet deep and 30 feet wide, or 2,400 square feet. Both the parking and patio cement pads will be around ten feet longer than the old standard.
Because of the additional land and expense it takes to build large RV-friendly campsites, many RV parks keep most of their sites a standard size and only install a set number of more extended, broader sites.
Other Factors That Determine Campsites Per Acre
The sizes for campgrounds and campsites and how many you can fit per acre are general averages. Many individual states, franchises, and local RV zoning laws will restrict your building plans.
Some zoning rules require any RV park to be a minimum of five acres or that you can only set eight campsites maximum per acre. For RV park owners, for example, a KOA franchise park must be at least 10 acres and offer 70-90 campsites.
Other rules place restrictions on campsite numbers depending on whether it has full or partial hookups for electricity, water, and sewer. Other localities forbid RV park development on any land within their jurisdiction.
Land usage rules are the first major hurdle you must jump over before buying land and planning any RV campground.
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Average Cost to Build an RV Campsite
To install a single RV park campground from bare land averages $10,000-$50,000 is needed. Even a small park with 20 campsites can be very expensive to build from scratch.
Using grass or gravel for parking and patio areas is the least expensive, but campsites should be level and drain well, which still requires work. Adding the power pedestal and other RV hookups start at around $3,000 per site.
Costs for permits and meeting building code standards vastly range from city to city. Some counties may require a permit for each site, while others will cover the entire RV park.
Cost to Renovate an Existing RV Park Campsite
If you have an older campground with campsites that have functioning RV hookups, you can often spend $1,000 or less to add concrete, relevel the parking pad with gravel, or add privacy with bushes or trees, so it’s better for guests.
Expect to pay around $7,500 to increase the overall size of a campsite. The easiest way we’ve seen this done is by removing every other site and enlarging the spots on either side.
Depending on hookup locations and whether or not existing parking and patio areas are cement plays a significant role in the final cost.
Are RV Parks a Good Investment?
Yes, the average return on investment for an RV park campground is 10%-20%, with owners making an average profit of $75,000 a year with the land needed to do so!
If you already own some land you wish to develop, your gains will be much higher.
If you are in a high tourist area or offer outstanding amenities, a clean park, and friendly staff, expect profits to be much larger. We know of many family-run parks with around 75-100 campsites that make well over $250,000 yearly in profit.
What RV Guests Prefer: Space vs. Amenities
As avid RVers, we know what makes one campsite or campground better than another.
A poll of RVing friends shows that all of us prefer having a larger, more private campsite over a general-use clubhouse or other seldom-used facilities.
The only exception was in terms of restroom and shower areas. All of us appreciate ample room to undress, take a shower, and clean up after long days of sightseeing or traveling. Many travel with small children and need to have room for two or more inside shower stalls.
Campsite spacing or barriers between sites is crucial for campground success. No one wants to have a camping neighbor’s:
- Awning a few inches from your RV
- Sewer line or hoses near your patio space
- Pets or kids encroaching on your site
- Eyes peeping at you on your patio from inside their camper
- Camping gear or vehicles overflowing onto your campsite
- Noise from TVs, radios, or conversations heard easily
The best barrier between campsites is space, but also landscaping. A line of hedges or a short fence is a great way to hide sewer lines and other hookups.
Taller trellises or trees can keep prying eyes away, and any plants or shrubbery help buffer noise, so campsites are quieter.
When people go to these RV parks, they even take their A-frame campers because of the extra space.
Now you know how many acres you need for an RV park is flexible, but around three acres is the minimum. What isn’t flexible is having safe and clean facilities, a super-caring staff, and reliable utility connections, so people know their stay will be enjoyable.
The RV industry is hot and continues to grow each year. New RV sales are through the roof, and all those buyers need a place to take their camper.
Investing in RV park campgrounds can be lucrative, and we hope the information in this article helps you plan the perfect park when you have the land needed!
- What are the key differences between an overnight campground, a basic campground, and a resort or destination campground?
An overnight campground typically offers basic amenities like a place to pitch a tent or park an RV for a short stay, often used by travelers on long journeys.
A basic campground may offer slightly more facilities like picnic tables, fire pits, and communal bathrooms, designed for slightly longer stays, while a resort or destination campground is a more luxurious option, often featuring amenities like swimming pools, restaurants, entertainment facilities, and fully serviced RV sites or cabins, designed for extended vacations or destination trips.
- What are the expectations of RVers at different types of campgrounds?
RVers’ expectations at different types of campgrounds vary based on the amenities and services provided.
At basic campgrounds, they might expect a simple, rustic experience with minimal facilities, while at luxury or resort-style campgrounds, they anticipate a range of amenities like full hookups, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, recreational activities, and even on-site restaurants or stores.
- How does the size of the campsite affect the number of campsites that can fit on an acre of land?
The size of the campsite directly affects the number of campsites that can fit on an acre of land: the larger the campsite, the fewer you can fit on an acre.
Conversely, smaller campsites allow for a greater number to be accommodated within the same acreage.
- What factors determine the profitability of an RV park?
The profitability of an RV park is primarily determined by factors such as its location, the amenities it offers, and the pricing strategy.
Additionally, operational efficiency, occupancy rates, and the ability to attract and retain customers through marketing and customer service also play significant roles.
"Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt."
-- John Muir