Just like the average car owner, few RV owners drive brand-new ones. In fact, it’s safe to say that most have RVs that wouldn’t be considered new in any way, shape, or form. When bought new, they’re considered a major purchase. However, it’s common to see a decade-old RV on the road. If you’re one of the many RV owners whose RV is ten years or older, you may have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with the RV 10-year rule.
For those new to the RV way of life who consider buying an older vehicle, take heed. The 10-year rule at RV parks is something you should be aware of.
What Is the 10-Year RV Rule?
You’ve got your RV packed, it’s all gassed up, and you’re ready to drive to one of your bucket list RV parks hundreds of miles away. However, you were shocked when you went to make your reservation but were turned down because your RV is too old. How can an RV be too old, you might ask. This could be the first time you’ve heard of the 10-year RV rule.
Experienced RVers are familiar with this campground rule. However, those new to the lifestyle, especially those on a budget who finally bit the bullet and bought a cheaper and older RV, might be surprised by its existence. Some are all for it, while others feel it’s unnecessary and exclusionary.
The 10-year RV rule is incredibly simple. If your trailer is over 10 years old, a campground can deny your reservation.
Why Do RV Parks Have a 10-Year Rule?
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that in 2017, the average age of a legally registered RV in the United States was 15.8 years old. With so many older motorhomes and trailers still on the road, you may be confused why campgrounds would enforce a 10-year rule.
At first thought, this rule seems a bit ludicrous. First, a 10-year-old travel trailer or motorhome isn’t all that old, and many that hit double digits in years still look relatively new. From a business point of view, it doesn’t sound like a good, profitable practice for campground property owners to restrict rigs that aren’t exactly brand new arbitrarily. In fact, it seems a little like RV snobbery, right?
There may be a bit of truth in that, but the reason parks have a 10-year rule makes sense from the property owners’ point of view, and many RVers agree. Campground property owners have the right to deny entry to any trailer over 10 years old to ensure that ill-maintained and unsightly rigs don’t end up wasting away on their site.
Look at it this way. If your campground ends up with many long-term campers whose rigs are falling apart, leaking fluids, and generally looking more like they should be in a scrapyard, it’s not good for business. Their property value could drop, but more importantly, they’ll lose business. Who wants to spend a week or more surrounded by RVs and motorhomes that look like junk?
The Real Reasons RV Some Parks Enforce a 10-Year Rule
Sure, there are some good reasons why this rule is enforced at some RV parks and campgrounds. Most campground managers explain the RV 10-year rule by bringing up these points:
- Safety – Older RVs with visible poor maintenance are likely to break on-site. It could be as simple and harmless as a slow water leak or something more hazardous like electrical system failures, engine problems, etc.
- Guest consideration – RVers will spend time in the campsite and no one wants to look at an old, dilapidated RV. Campgrounds that allow a neglected RV, motorhome, or camper to stay on their grounds will quickly get a bad reputation.
- Legal factor – Although not in the majority by any means, some owners of unkept or severely deteriorated RVs may not have the resources to fix their rigs if they break down since they haven’t properly maintained them. If a motorhome breaks down on site and cannot fix it or pay for continued use of the campgrounds, this becomes a legal dilemma. Eviction due to lack of payment could take 6 months or longer.
- Environmental issues – Some campsites may enforce the RV 10-year rule to promote environmental sustainability by ensuring that campers on their grounds meet certain emissions and energy efficiency standards. Older RVs may be less environmentally friendly and produce more pollution than newer models, leading some campsites to restrict their use.
However, there are some unscrupulous reasons why the 10-year rule is enforced. A campground manager usually won’t talk about these things, but they are known by RVers who’ve been around the block a few times.
Some non-legitimate excuses include:
- Appearance – This could be the reason if your RV or motorhome is over a decade old and appears a little run-down. They don’t want delaminated motorhomes, rusty trailers, or deteriorated campers to sit on their property.
- RV park or campground image – Some campground owners want to project a certain image, perhaps one of wealth. They may only allow newer, more expensive RVs on the property in hopes of attracting a high-income clientele.
- Popularity – Some campgrounds are so popular and busy that they can pick and choose who can stay there and who can’t.
Can You Get Around the 10-Year RV Rule?
There is a caveat to the RV 10-year rule. Not all campgrounds enforce the rule, and some don’t care about it all. However, most campgrounds allow and welcome all RVs, so looking for RV parks that accept older RVs is best.
- When making your campground reservation, folks with older RVs may be asked to submit a recent photo of their rig. This ensures the campground that even though your travel trailer is over a decade older, it’s been properly maintained and isn’t an eyesore.
- If you’re asked to submit a photo of your motorhome, make sure it’s recent and represents its condition well. It is not the best idea to submit an old photo of your trailer (when it was looking new).
Thousands of vintage RVs, some as old as 30 or more years, look and run just as good as some of the newer ones. Adventurers who’ve taken the time to keep their vintage rigs in tip-top shape usually don’t have any problems when making a reservation at a campground that does ask how old it is. The 10-year RV rule is more for keeping the rundown and broken-down RVs off a respectable campground.
There are, however, some high-end parks that refuse to allow any older RVs to set “tires” on their property. Luckily, they are usually the most expensive and exclusive campgrounds in the country that only cater to “preferred customers.” Most of us in the real world don’t have the means to cover their exorbitant prices. There are plenty of campgrounds that are decade-old-RV-friendly.
Do All Campgrounds Enforce the RV 10-Year Rule?
Owners of older RVs will be happy to know that most campgrounds do not enforce the 10-year rule. However, two states are firmer with enforcing the rule. Florida and Arizona have a handful of RV parks with the 10-year rule. Both states are very popular RV destinations, and this could be the reason why they are pickier when it comes to the age of your RV.
Even though Arizona campsites tend to be stricter, plenty of campsites still don’t have an RV 10-year rule. The following campgrounds do not enforce the RV age restrictions:
- Arizona Charlie’s RV Park
- Thousand Trails RV Resort in California
- Lake Mead RV Village in Nevada
- Canyon Trail RV Park in Texas
- Circus Circus RV Park in Las Vegas
- Sea & Sand RV Park in Oregon
It should be noted that RVers with older vehicles don’t need to fret over finding a campground that will accept them. Federal and county parks do not enforce the 10-year rule, as this restriction is only for privately owned sites and campgrounds.
How Do I Know If a Campground Will Allow My Older RV?
If your RV or motorhome is over a decade old, but you’ve taken good care of it, and there’s no unsightly exterior damage, you don’t have much to worry about. Since most campgrounds don’t adhere to the RV 10-year rule, you’ll probably drive in without issue.
However, if you’re a bit of a worry-wort, there are several steps to take before considering some RV parks without a 10-year rule that can put your mind at ease. If you booked your reservation online and weren’t required to state the age of your RV but are still concerned about being denied your reservation, here’s what you can do.
- Check their website – Scour the campground’s website for any mention of the 10-year rule or anything about an RVs age or appearance.
- Call the campground – Property managers appreciate it when campers call ahead and ask about the site’s restrictions. Being proactive and respectful of their policies can work wonders. In addition, they may ask for you to email them a current photo of your rig.
- Show up looking good – The 10-year rule is mostly about appearance, so if you have an older rig, ensure it looks its best before your arrival.
What Is the Lifespan of an RV?
Determining what the lifespan of an RV can be a bit difficult. Age isn’t the only factor involved in their lifespan. Proper care and maintenance play a big part in when an RV or motorhome has reached the end of its usefulness. A well-cared-for RV that’s 15 years old will have a longer lifespan than a 5-year-old one that’s been beaten, neglected, and ridden hard.
As a general rule of thumb regarding RV depreciation, an RV with between 100,000 to 200,000 miles that’s 20 years old is probably near the end of its lifespan. That’s not to say that a properly maintained vintage RV is ready for the scrap heap, but as the miles get tacked on, it’ll most likely need more and more repairs.
What Do You Do With a 10-Year-Old RV?
A 10-year-old RV that’s been cared for still may have some life. Depending on the mileage and how and where you drive it, you may get some use out of it. However, be prepared to put some serious money into it because things will need to be repaired or replaced at this stage in its life, and some fixes can be very expensive.
If your motorhome looks shoddy and you’ve already been refused entry to a camp, it’s most likely time to get rid of it. Unfortunately, refurbishing a banged-up RV to make it look all pretty again will be costly. And if it’s looking rough and is over 10 years old, good luck trying to find a buyer.
The easiest and quickest solution is to sell your old RV to a specialized dealer that buys older RVs and motorhomes. Regardless of its condition, they’ll make you an offer. It saves you the hassle of finding a private buyer, which would most likely be a waste of time. Older RVs, especially those with cosmetic damage, are difficult to sell.
There’s no shame in owning an RV that’s stood the test of time and whose odometer is well into six digits. Most campgrounds will welcome you with open arms without any mention of the RV 10-year rule.
However, suppose you’ve had the unfortunate experience of being denied a reservation or, worse, not even allowed onto the property because your old rig looks old. In that case, you have to make a decision. Do you keep it, pay for costly repairs and upkeep, or do you junk it?
Selling your ten-year-old RV, regardless of its condition and looks, could be your best decision. Contact a specialized dealer who will offer you the best money for it and handle all the paperwork.