Sierra Nevada Airstreams: Owner's Guide - Participating

Planning Rally Parking

The Monterey Bay Unit at Hat Creek, September 1992. An example of informal free form parking around a central spot at a rally

When you plan for the group to stop as a group anywhere, you need to plan for parking. For smaller groups, extensive planning is not really necessary. If the destination is a set of reserved spaces at an RV park, fairground or other place with already planned RV parking, the design can be left to the facility. But when your group starts to get more than a score of rigs and the destination is not a pre-designed RV park, parking design becomes a very important consideration. In any of these situations, you will need to carefully plan guidance and traffic control as an influx like a caravan or rally is not a usual situation for most facilities. Some facilities that plan for rallies (which can be a good source of income for RV parks) or have experience with groups may be able to handle the unique needs of a rally or caravan group - but don't plan on it. Make sure your camp host has made appropriate arrangements and that the parking committee is primed and ready to handle the situation as participants arrive.

Topography and obstacles

The first concern is the same one you may have heard the generals talking about in the Gettysburg Civil War battle movie. What is the lay of the ground? What are the obstacles to visibility and movement? A large flat field with only a slight slope for drainage and nothing but grass to worry about is an empty slate for the parking designer. This removes a lot of headaches.

If the designated parking space is not flat, extra attention will need to be paid to placement of roads and the orientation of parking spaces. Motorhomes will need the more level spots. Trailers need to be parked so that side to side is as level as possible with less attention to fore and aft level ground. Backing up steep grades should be avoided.

Large rocks, trees, holes, and anything else you can't drive a small sedan over are obstacles that you will have to plan around or remove.

Utilities and Facilities

Both the location and the routing of any utilities or facilities at your site will need to be a part of your planning. These are both obstacles and resources that will set conditions on routing and parking sites and create traffic routing incentives to be managed.

Purpose and goals

How you design your parking will influence the social dynamics of the group and that will contribute to or detract from the purpose of your rally or caravan. All too often parking designs are simple parking lots designed for good traffic flow and little or no interaction between neighbors. Sometimes there is a focus on a central area, such as the 'wagon wheel' design, but seldom is there consideration for shared awning areas, inside the parking site small meet and greet parks, pedestrian walkways, or other social stimulants.


The traditional design provided for parking spots 75 or 80 feet long by 16 feet wide and supported by roadways 20 to 25 feet wide. This would serve as a parking lot and would be very tight for some of the larger motor homes or the RV's with slide-outs. If a wagon wheel arrangement is used the inside diameter needs 12' between centers for each site.

Avoid sharp turns and the need for backing, especially in combination. If a driver needs to back into a site, try to make any turns towards the driver's side.

Water and electrical lines should not be driven over unless protected. If possible water and electricity should be routed to the rear roadside of each site.


A computer and a CAD (computer assisted design) program make designing your own RV park a much simpler exercise that it used to be. There are even some programs custom designed for landscaping that may make the effort even easier.

The first thing to do is to make a map of the property and note any obstacles, utilities, and facilities that already exist. Then create and RV parking spot template (a rectangle 16x75 feet) that you can place on the map. Arrange roads and parking spots to create your park design. When you have a skeleton laid out, you can play what if games looking for trouble spots, and potential problems.


A photo album of rallies showing different parking plans and styles


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