RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

Seeking Info about RVs at RAGBRAI

A group of 4-5 of us are very interested in participating in RAGBRAI for the first time. We’re considering driving to Le Mars from Baltimore, MD, in a Class C RV and using it along the ride route as our nightly lodging. This site mentions RV campgrounds, but notes that hook-up not guaranteed. Without a hookup, we’d be forced to use a generator all night (noisy, unpleasant) or leave the vehicle running- neither option sounds good.

Does anyone have any tips for us? Is an RV an viable option?

Is there a way to ensure access to RV hookup ahead of time? Either in an official campground or perhaps a private home?

Any suggestions appreciate. Thank you.

24 Replies

KenH, February 11, 2020 at 10:03 am

I perfectly understand Niles’ point of view and I share elements of it. But RV owners are a welcome part of RAGBRAI and RVs make an excellent team vehicle. To those nearby sleeping in tents the noise may be unwelcome and that is why I say that when “we” find ourselves in one of “their” campgrounds we should be polite and turn the generators off during sleeping hours. When “they” are in one of “our” campgrounds I presume they are ok with the noise and I don’t think hnschipper is alone in his tolerance of or even preference for the noise. If you are sleeping nearby in a tent it is true that you do not get the benefit of the AC but trust me the noise is MUCH WORSE inside a class C motorhome! And if the genny is running, and there’s nothing plugged into the outside electrical outlet, feel free to plug your phone charger in and “borrow” a few joules. If we’re around and you are feeling a touch of the heat stroke coming on by all means come inside and cool off. Enjoy a cold one from the fridge. We aren’t bad folks, not at all and most of us don’t a million dollar anything!


Herschel, February 13, 2020 at 7:01 pm

So Niles, did an RV run over your mother or what?

My major reason for using an RV and missing out on the true experience is I prefer my own shower. If the true RAGBRAI experience is standing angle deep in shower water with 5 men you don’t know then I will miss out then.


Mark Swanstrom, February 13, 2020 at 8:26 pm

Try being eco-friendly.
Try a solar panel and inverter setup. A deep cycle Marine battery, charged by solar panels, connected to 2000 or 3000 watt inverter. Might be able to run your AC for a few hours. You could also check into a portable wind system as well.


Iowa_Born Eastern_River, February 17, 2020 at 7:34 pm

The better pick of campgrounds is usually with a tent: often a large and open field, with quiet corners, if you are willing to walk far enough for them. But as others have pointed out, the issues are more than just about campgrounds.

The first RAGBRAI was self-supported tourists, though the baggage trucks and SAG wagon were likely, agreeably, reasonable additions during the second RAGBRAI. The couple of baggage trucks that RAGBRAI hires now support several hundred riders each, and the vehicles themselves don’t incite any additional passenger-car trips once at the overnight.

[quote quote=1315461]Try being eco-friendly.[/quote]

Solar panels to run the A/C isn’t going to save the gasoline running from city to city; going with the largest charters, or the RAGBRAI trucks themselves is going to be the most ecologically minded (aside from carrying your own tent, for the enthused).

[quote quote=1315459]standing angle deep in shower water with 5 men you don’t know then I will miss out then.[/quote]

The best showers on RAGBRAI are usually the community pools, or sometimes the high school gym lockers. I’ve never needed to use the haul-in shower trucks, but plenty line up for them (I think some accommodate a private stall and towel service). Showers were a requisite part of high school education and successfully prevent skin rash, guess I’ve never been too picky about it.

[quote quote=1315353]An RV sounds like a logical way to get 5 people, 5 bikes from the East Coast to Iowa (and back),[/quote]

My personal pet peeve is observing people rolling into camp — people who have successfully ridden 60 and 70 miles — then climb into a vehicle to go one or two miles into town (where the cyclist traffic has often dispersed well beyond the route). I agree that an RV might be a logical way to move 5 bikes from the East Coast, but it doesn’t have to follow you for a week of bicycling.

If you still desire more-than-baggage-truck levels of support, I would encourage you first consider bringing your group with either an organized charter or as participants in a larger team (many Team buses support tens of riders). For out-of-state riders, the charters can typically provide a shuttle bus to or from either end of the ride. You can have the best campgrounds, the most eco-friendly approach, and all without the responsibility (and restrictions) of bringing along the RV. But most important for me, skipping the RV luxuries gets closer to the tradition of RAGBRAI.


JudyAHolmes, February 20, 2020 at 1:34 pm

We look for federal, state, or county campgrounds nearby and reserve a spot so we will be able to have electricity, water, sewer. You might have to bike extra miles to get to the campground, but it is still the best option for us.


Becky Redett, February 20, 2020 at 1:42 pm

Thank you all for the responses. I appreciate the information.


garywilk, February 23, 2020 at 4:59 pm

There are always enough spots to park RV’s. School parking lots. fairground fields, and many others. Most RV’s leave early in the morning and are set up by noon before almost anyone gets in. Agree that there are a few late people but these seem to be more buss’s than RV’s. Just plan to leave a bit early and look at the towns on the RAGBRAI site or links to the host towns. They will have the locations ahead of time and usually what they support. Basically if they have electricity, only RV parking with limited tent set up ares, etc. Then just pick a location for each town. You can usually go there but there is a chance it will be full or they may direct you to a different location so have a Text plan to let the riders know where to go. Texts usually go through but it may take a bit of time. Phone calls are iffy.


Becky Redett, February 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Thanks for the info!


Paula McCloskey, March 4, 2020 at 8:12 pm

We are veterans of Ragbrai. We use a Class C with me now driving as opposed to being on the back of the tandem. Much easier I might add! I don’t like generators but find a lot of folks pull in and fire them up even if it’s not warm yet. We try to sleep with our windows open but often have to close them. The RV generators are usually hidden within the body of the rv. The ones I try to avoid when parking in a lot are the fifth wheels/trailer who have a huge portable generator. Some will place it far away from their unit to be right next to their neighbor. I have moved on more than one occasion.

Advice I would offer is to have folks use the porta potties as often as possible to save black water tank. Carry jugs of water for coffee. Be very stingy with your fresh water tank. There will be dumping stations, fresh water in overnight towns. There is usually a line. I have a book that lists dumping stations at the Iowa rest stop areas. Camping World sells a book called Next Exit. For major roads across the US, it is a great resource. Some use the state and county parks for water and dumping. There might be a small fee. My husband uses showers at the schools, YMCA etc to avoid using the RV water or tanks. You will be fine. Bring ear plugs to sleep with if you think the generators will bother you.


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