How Late Can You Arrive at a Campground?

Van checked in and parked at campground

Check-in and check-out times at campgrounds and RV parks allow staff to maintain campsites between occupants. When preparing for a camping trip, guests must know these times to avoid arriving too early or too late. Early arrivals may cause unnecessary waiting, whereas late arrivals could cause guests to lose the campsite altogether.

You can arrive as late as you want at most campgrounds. However, some facilities allow guests to arrive later, whereas others end check-in at certain times, and refuse check-in after dark or during “quiet hours.” Campground check-in times are typically between 2 and 4 p.m.

It’s always a good idea to check-in during the advertised check-in times. If you are unsure what these hours are, you can call the campground office to find out. If you are unable to arrive during check-in hours, you can let the campground office know. There are usually procedures in place for those arriving later.

This article discusses campground check-in times, late and early arrivals, as well as etiquette when checking in and checking out. Read on to learn more.

What Does Check-In Time Mean for Camping?

The check-in time for camping is the earliest time guests may arrive at their reserved campsite. Every campground and RV park has its own check-in times and procedures. Campgrounds usually have later check-in times than RV parks.

Some examples of check-in times for different RV parks and campgrounds are below:

CampgroundCheck-in Time
Lake Snowden3 p.m.
Lake Carl Blackwell3 p.m.
Virginia State Parks4 p.m
Alum Creek State Park Campground4 p.m.
Berlin RV Park and Campground1 p.m.
Trailer Village RV Park12 p.m.
Jekyll Island Campground2 p.m.

How Late Can You Check-In at a Campground?

Check-in times aren’t always strictly enforced. For example, if check-in starts at 11 a.m. and you arrive at 1 p.m., you’re probably not going to lose your spot, as you’ve reserved it for your nightly stay. However, it’s still important to discuss late arrivals with the campground office ahead of time to avoid any misunderstandings.

Most campgrounds allow campers to check in after the check-in time, as long as it’s within a reasonable time frame. However, others are more stringent and may not permit guests to check in after a specified time, after dark, or during quiet hours. Check with the campground office to be sure.

When calling the campground office to make reservations, discuss check-in times. Let the staff know when you expect to arrive to determine whether late arrivals are acceptable.

Some campgrounds observe “quiet hours” and, therefore, do not permit guests to arrive during this time to avoid disturbing other campers. Additionally, some campgrounds have strict guidelines regarding what campers can and cannot do after dark, including setting up tents or RVs.

How Early Can You Check-In at a Campground?

The earliest you can check-in at a campground is at the check-in time. With that said, some campgrounds and RV parks allow early check-in, although you must pre-arrange this during the reservation process. Early check-in may require an additional fee or other service costs.

Some campgrounds and RV parks allow for early check-in, depending on whether they’re booked or not. Different campgrounds have different rules and reservation policies and may charge an additional fee or service fee if you have to change your check-in date or time.

In the summer, it’s unlikely that guests can check-in early. Summers are the busiest times for campgrounds and RV parks, so it’s not unusual to be fully booked back-to-back. During these times, check-in and check-out times must be adhered to, as it allows just enough time for maintenance to clean up campsites in time for the next guests.

With that said, many campgrounds do not allow early check-in (usually during peak months) for a multitude of reasons, including:

  • Electricity Use: RV parks may not allow early check-in, as guests immediately begin using electricity. Electricity costs are included only in the nightly rates based on standard check-in and check-out times. Allowing guests to arrive early increases the cost of running the RV park due to extra energy usage.
  • Occupancy: When campgrounds and RV parks refuse early arrival, it’s usually because the site is already booked with a specified check-out time for the current occupants. If the current occupants haven’t yet vacated the campsite, other guests cannot arrive to set up camp in an occupied space.
  • Maintenance: In between occupants, a campground maintenance crew must clean and maintain the site prior to the arrival of the next campers. They must remove the trash, mow, and empty the fire pits. Since check-in and check-out times typically have a two-hour window, this only allows crews two hours to clean multiple campsites.

During slow months, some campgrounds may allow early check-in if the park isn’t fully booked. Sometimes, if the park isn’t at full capacity, you may arrive early and choose an alternative site.

Check-In Etiquette While Camping

Once guests reserve a campsite, they’re expected to arrive within a reasonable time frame, usually at or shortly after check-in time. It’s important to make it to the site on time whenever possible. Extenuating circumstances happen, however, so if you expect to arrive late, call ahead and discuss it with camp staff, so they don’t mark you down as a “no-show.”

If the campground allows you to check-in after dark or during quiet hours, it’s essential to be considerate of other campers. During this time, they may be sleeping or winding down, so remember camping etiquette and keep things peaceful:

  • Choose a campsite away from other guests. This isn’t always possible, as most campgrounds require you to choose a specific plot when making reservations. However, if it’s a free-for-all, move as far away from other campers as possible to avoid disturbing them.
  • Keep it quiet. Avoid loud conversations and try to keep sound to a minimum.
  • Set-up during the day. Don’t fully set-up camp until daylight when you can see. Trying to get everything set up at night is not only frustrating, but it makes a lot of noise that may disturb fellow campers. Just plug in the electricity, if necessary, and call it a night.

What Time Is Check-Out at Most RV Parks?

Like hotels, campgrounds maintain strict check-out times to allow for maintenance between occupants. While hotels clean, provide new linens, and make the beds, campground staff must mow, pick up trash, empty fire pits, and ensure that the space is suitable for the next occupant.

Check-out times for most RV parks and campgrounds are between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Some require earlier check-out, whereas others may allow late check-out times (when possible) for an additional fee. These fees cover the site, electricity use, and the use of camp facilities.

During the summer months or times of back-to-back bookings, check-out times are non-negotiable. If you find yourself camping during the slower months, you may have the option to stay later, depending on the campground and their policies and current reservations.

Camping Check-Out Etiquette

Campground and RV park check-out times are when guests should vacate the premises. As such, you should begin packing before check-out time to allow maintenance crews to come in and clean up the campsite.

Whenever possible, you should leave your campsite as clean as you can — preferably better than it was on arrival. The United States National Park Service recommends implementing the “Leave No Trace” principles when camping.

Some principles that apply to checking out include minimizing and disposing of trash and other waste and leaving nature as you found it — don’t take rocks, plants, or artifacts.


Camping, whether “roughing it” or chilling out in a luxury RV, is an adventurous experience that allows people to enjoy nature. However, campgrounds and RV parks are still businesses, so there are rules that guests must follow.

Good etiquette means recognizing and adhering to check-in and check-out times and procedures. Check-in as close to the set time as possible, or discuss late arrivals ahead of time with camp staff — and don’t be a lingering camper when it’s time to depart. Check out on time to avoid causing an inconvenience for camp staff, maintenance crews, and the next occupants.

Dan Collins

I consider myself an outdoor enthusiast. I love to travel and go to places that most people don't get a chance to go. I want to see it all and live life to the fullest while I'm alive. My camper van is helping me to do just that. I write about my experiences to help inspire others to do the same.

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