Colorado Campground
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How to Set Up Your RV at a Campground the First Time

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Colorado Campground
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Readying the Rig

This article originally appeared on RVshare.com and is syndicated by Cheapism.


When you pull into a campground, especially as a newbie RVer, chances are that you are not sure how to set up your rig. Sometimes it’s easier to have a checklist with you. This will enable you to keep track of what you have and haven’t done, especially if you are new to the RV scene. Make a habit of using a check list. If you're splitting chores between individuals, have one person manage the checklist so that instances of “I thought you did that!” do not occur.


It is almost impossible to cover everything involved in setting up an RV due to the differences between the models. However, all RVs have certain things in common. This checklist will help you out regardless of your rig.


Related: The Different Types of RV Camping

Park office camping area registration sign
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Checking In at the Camp

Once you arrive to your campground of choice, first things first:

  1. Disconnect any towed cars after arriving at the campground registration parking lot. Check in and ask if any discounts are available.
  2. Get a map of the campground and locate your campsite.
  3. Survey the site assigned to you. If you have a large vehicle, it is best to do this using an alternative vehicle or by walking to the site. Does it have sufficient space for your rig? Do you know where all the connections are? Is there room for your awning? Figure out whether you will drive through or have to back up into your site.

Related: The Best Budget-Friendly RV Campgrounds in Every State

    Woman Deploying Stabilizer of Camper Trailer on Campground in Summer
    Onfokus/istockphoto

    Setting Up Your RV for the First Time

    Now that you've arrived to your camp spot, you want to make sure you stay there.

    1. Don’t forget to set the parking brake if you are driving a motor home and chock the wheels.
    2. Disconnect the tow vehicle and put down stabilizer jacks.

    Related: How to Stabilize Your RV

    Young woman hooks up camper to electric outlet
    swissmediavision/istockphoto

    Sparking Your Electricity

    1. If the battery for your chassis has a disconnect switch, disconnect it.
    2. Test the voltage of the electricity with a voltmeter before hooking up your rig.
    3. Plug in your RV to the receptacle that matches your amperage requirements. Anything below 105 volts and above 135 can damage your appliances.
    4. Some campgrounds may require the use of an electrical adapter, while others have a circuit breaker that you will need to turn on in order for electricity to flow into your RV.
    5. Check to ensure your electricity is working.
    6. Turn on your fridge.

    Related: RV Electrical: All the Basics You Need To Know

    RV water connection hose with filter
    Campwillowlake/istockphoto

    Getting the Water Flowing

    1. Hook up your water regulator to the water supply. Use a water filter at the inlet of your fresh water tank. 
    2. Attach your white water hose to the camp supply and your RV. Check to ensure water is flowing into your RV. 
    3. Do not use the water pump. The pump is only used to draw water from the fresh water tank when no other water source is available.


    Related: RV Fresh Water Tank – What You Need to Know

    Man Emptying RV Sewer After Camping
    Onfokus/istockphoto

    Sorting Out the Sewage

      1. Wear gloves and attach the sewer hose to the drain outlet. Ensure the locking tabs are secured by turning it. Most campgrounds now require a sewer donut or seal on the sewer connection. Ensure your connection is sealed securely.
      2. If you have a sewer support system, set it up now, allowing a slight slope from the RV to the sewer connection.

      Related: How to Dump Waste Tanks

      RV Gas Stopcock
      cruphoto/istockphoto

      Get the Gas Going

      1. Turn the supply of LPG on at the valve of the tank or bottle.
      2. Ensure that your water heater bypass is not on bypass mode and that the heater tank is full of water. Your heater probably has an electric mode that helps you save LPG.

      Related: How to Use Your RV Water Heater

      Caravan camping lifestyle
      knape/istockphoto

      Time for the TV

      1. If your campground and RV have cable TV, hook it up using the TV coax cable. 
      2. If no cable connection is available, raise your antennae.


      Related: 7 Things You Need to Know About RV Tvs

      Glamping in the USA
      leightrail/istockphoto

      Outdoor Arrangements

      Now that you have all the technical stuff set up, it's time for the party supplies. Is it even camping if you don't spend some time outside of the rig?

      1. Put out an RV mat.
      2. Set up your chairs.
      3. Fire up the BBQ.


      close up view of proper disposal of gray water and waste water from a camper van at an RV park
      makasana/istockphoto

      Dumping Black and Gray Water in an RV Campground

      If you intend to stay at the campground for a few days, you can open the gray water tank valve slightly. This will allow water to drain directly into the sewer. If you are only staying a night, leave it closed. Never leave the valve on your black tank open and do not dump your black water until the tank is almost full.

      You will need gray water when dumping your black water tank, so close the valve the day or night before you intend to dump your black water to allow it to accumulate.

      1. To drain the black water tank, open the valve completely and let it drain. Close the valve when this is done.
      2. Open the gray water tank valve and dump it. This will flush the sewer hose of whatever gunk is left after dumping the black water tank.
      3. Treat your black water tank after every dump.

      Related: The Ultimate Guide to RV Grey Water Tank

      Zion National Park Utah
      knutter/istockphoto

      From Zero to Pro in No Time

      There are several things an RVer needs to do before they hit the road. If you are preoccupied, you will inevitably overlook a step. Take the time to learn how your RV works. You should be able to fix any minor problems and know how many amps your breaker can handle. Take a practice drive if you are a beginner, and bring tools and spare parts in case something happens.


      RVers are usually very friendly, so if you get stuck, ask your neighbor if they can help. Remember to keep it fun and enjoy the road.


      Related: What It's Really Like to Retire in an RV