From weekend getaways to off-grid camping, full-time living, or long adventures — certain RVs perform better in specific situations. Park model RVs are a lesser-known category of RVs that fulfill a specific purpose, but it might be the perfect kind of RV for you. Let’s explore this type of RV, what type of camping they’re intended for, and what differentiates them from other RV types.
What Is a Park Model RV?
Park model recreational vehicles are designed for long-term living in a seasonal trailer or RV park environment. They offer more space than towable campers, often featuring full bathrooms, and provide residential features and amenities like a washer and dryer, dishwasher, and a full fridge.
On average, park models typically range from 32 to 41 feet long, often costing between $35,000 and $120,000. Most have a higher sleeping capacity to accommodate large families or guests, and many feature residential kitchens.
The major difference between park models RVs and other recreational vehicles is that they require full hookups for electricity, sewer, and water, as they lack onboard holding tanks, batteries, or generators. Park models aren’t suited for boondocking or state park camping where hookups aren’t available. Instead of holding tanks, they connect directly to an RV park’s electric, sewer, and water hookups.
Once connected, park model RVs generally remain on-site year-round or at least seasonally. Some owners rent a site in a campground for permanent placement of their park model. Many campground owners place park models on sites to offer “cabin camping” to interested guests.
In many ways, park model RVs are more similar to tiny homes than they are to travel trailers or fifth wheels. However, they are generally considered easier to tow and transport than an average tiny home, especially those not built on a trailer chassis.
Like tiny homes, many full-time park model owners customize their exteriors with additions, such as outdoor decks or patios built off the door of their park model camper. These provide a more comfortable transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces than a traditional trailer.
Park Model RV Features
Note these other defining features of park model trailers, each suited for longer-term camping:
Park model RVs are built according to ANSI housing standards, which are stricter than the looser regulations governing tiny home construction. They must be no larger than 400 square feet and are typically built on a single chassis that’s mounted on wheels, typically with multiple axles. The best park model manufacturers also build to RVIA standards, so look for the blue and gold RVIA seal when evaluating a park model’s build quality.
Many park models look more residential, with peaked roofs, large windows, sliding glass doors, and other home-like features. You might easily mistake a park model RV for a tiny home. They typically don’t resemble what you’d think of in an RV, although some fall in that category when you’re looking into loans and financing (depending on your region).
Extra Living Space
Park model trailers offer more floor space than other recreational vehicles. Some even have multiple slide-outs to increase the usable interior square footage. This extra space allows manufacturers to build spacious kitchens, larger bedrooms, and some of the most comfortable bathrooms you’ll find in the RV industry.
Because they’re designed for extended stays, there’s no shortage of storage inside a park model RV for kitchen essentials, bedroom and bathroom linens, camping gear, and anything else you need.
Plenty of Privacy
You and your family (or guests) won’t feel as cramped as you would in many smaller towable campers. You’ll find park model RVs with one or more private bedrooms and private loft areas for extra sleeping space.
Although more difficult to transport than regular towables and destination trailers, park models still provide owners with seasonal flexibility. Many set park model RVs on a second property or in a vacation destination to escape from their primary residence at strategic times throughout the year.
Park Model RVs versus Destination Trailers
Park model RVs and destination trailers are often mistaken for one another. Or, the names are used interchangeably. While they bear many similarities, these are two distinctly different types of RVs.
Both park model RVs and destination trailers are designed for extended stays in a single location. However, destination trailers are more mobile and easier to relocate. They also boast onboard holding tanks, allowing you to enjoy their full functionality when not connected to water, electric, and sewer hookups.
Both fall into the category of towable RVs, but many park model owners will remove and store their hitch assembly once they arrive at a destination. RV skirts are often used on park model trailers to protect the underbelly from critters and climate while giving them the look of a modern tiny home for the duration of their stay.
Additionally, destination trailers look more like traditional travel trailers – although they generally have flat front walls with large, panoramic windows. In contrast, park model RVs more closely resemble tiny homes, often with peaked roofs, larger windows, and other residential features.
Which RV Manufacturers Make Park Models?
Some of the same RV manufacturers you’ve likely heard of also create park models for extended stays. Forest River is one of our favorites. They manufacture seven unique park models, but three are specifically designed for campground owners. Here are a few of our favorite Forest River Park Models:
Quailridge and Summit models are available for individuals in the US. In Canada, Quailridge Canada and Summit Canada are their comparable counterparts, designed specifically for Canadian buyers. These product lines boast floorplans with and without lofts, thermopane windows, tongue-and-groove floor decking, residential appliances, lifetime vinyl siding, 30-year architectural shingles, and more.
Here are a few more resources to help you differentiate the various RV types:
- Intro to RV Types & Classes
- Choosing Your RV: Towable vs. Motorized
- Choosing Your RV: Fifth Wheel vs. Travel Trailer
What questions do you have about park model RVs? Let us know in the comments below.