RV no-go zones

9 RV No-Go Zones: Dangerous Places to Avoid (And Why)

Updated on June 10th, 2024

Hitting the road in an RV is about freedom, adventure, and the thrill of living wherever you park it. But let’s be real—not every destination is as welcoming or as safe as those glossy travel brochures make them out to be. I’ve spent years steering my rig through the breathtaking landscapes of this country, and I’ve learned the hard way that some spots are best avoided.

In this guide, I’m taking you beyond the usual travel warnings. We’re diving into specific parks and locations that, while they might look perfect in a snapshot, hold hidden dangers ranging from uninvited wildlife encounters to unsettling brushes with bandits. This isn’t just about the occasional bear sniffing around your campsite; it’s about those spots where the cons consistently outweigh the pros.

Whether you’re a seasoned RVer or just getting your wheels spinning, knowing where not to stop can be just as valuable as knowing where to park. So, let’s explore the ten places you might want to think twice about before extending your awning.

1. Death Valley, California

Death Valley, California

Death Valley, California, stands as one of the most perilous places for RVing due to its harsh and unforgiving environment. This area is notorious for its extreme temperatures, which regularly climb above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Such intense heat can cause RV engines to overheat and break down, leaving travelers stranded in a remote and inhospitable landscape.

The terrain in Death Valley features steep grades that challenge even the most robust RVs. Descending these slopes can place tremendous stress on brakes, increasing the risk of mechanical failures that could lead to serious accidents.

Additionally, services such as gas stations, repair shops, and cellular reception are sparse. This lack of amenities compounds the danger, as help is not readily available in case of emergencies. Thus, anyone planning to RV in Death Valley must prepare meticulously, ensuring their vehicle is in top condition and they are equipped with ample supplies and emergency gear.

2. St. Louis, Missouri

RVers from the Chicago area often travel on the Interstate through St. Louis on their way to the National Forests in the Ozark Mountains.

Traveling from Illinois into St. Louis across the Mississippi River it’s very easy to take the wrong ramp and end up in East St. Louis. Remember the Scene in National Lampoon’s Vacation when Clark Griswold takes the wrong off ramp and ends up in East St. Louis? I have personally done this myself – twice.

East St. Louis has some very high crime areas. The scene in the movie where the Griswolds get their hubcaps stolen is not too far from reality. Be very careful when crossing the river and make sure you take the correct ramp.

There are safe and well-maintained RV parks in the St. Louis area, such as the Sundermeier RV Park in St. Charles and the Jellystone RV campground outside of St. Louis. In summary, while St. Louis has a lot to offer in terms of attractions and culture, RVers need to be cautious to avoid the city’s high-crime areas.

You may also be interested in reading: The 15 Most Dangerous Roads for RV Travel

3. New Orleans, Louisiana

RVing in New Orleans, Louisiana, carries its own set of risks due to the city’s unique challenges. The area is known for its vibrant culture and historic sites, but it also has a reputation for safety concerns that RVers need to consider.

One significant issue is the prevalence of crime, particularly in certain neighborhoods. Visitors have reported hearing gunshots from their campgrounds, which can be unsettling and pose a real danger. This kind of activity tends to increase after dark, adding an element of risk for those staying overnight in their RVs.

Furthermore, the places where RVers can park and stay overnight, such as certain campgrounds and parks, may not always feel secure. While some gated campgrounds offer a higher level of security, others do not, and the safety can drastically vary based on the location within or around the city.

When visiting popular tourist areas like the French Quarter, the experience can be unpredictable. The French Quarter has both family-friendly areas and spots that might feel sketchy, especially later in the evening or during less busy times.

For those traveling with an RV to New Orleans, I highly recommend researching and selecting secure parking locations, staying vigilant, and possibly traveling in groups when exploring more secluded parts of the city. This preparation and caution can help mitigate the risks associated with RVing in this otherwise enchanting city.

New Orleans 2024 Crime Statistics

As I write this, it’s presently Monday, April 29th, 2024. Below are the statistics (in aggregate per crime) for New Orleans in 2024 (so far). To tell you I’m shocked would be an understatement.

This list isn’t exhaustive because there have been more than 103,000 calls to the police/emergency services so far this year. You can access the full crime report through this link. Feel free to explore the data online or download it yourself.

I’ve bolded a few of the more egregious crime stats below.

NUMBERCRIME CATEGORY
94THREATS/HARASSMENT
97ATTEMPTED AUTO THEFT
97SUICIDE ATTEMPT
101CRIMINAL DAMAGE DOMESTIC
101HAZARD IN ROADWAY
101INDECENT BEHAVIOR
102RESIDENTAL BURGLARY (NOT OCCUPIED AT TIME OF INCIDENT)
102UNCLASSIFIED DEATH
102VEHICLE NO-PURSUIT
103TRAFFIC COMPLAINT/VIOLATION
103VIOLATION OF PROTECTION ORDER
104NOISE VIOLATION
107LOST OR FOUND PROPERTY
109FRAUD/FLIMFLAM
110THEFT FROM EXTERIOR OF VEHICLE
112SIMPLE BURGLARY
113HOMELESS
117SUSPICIOUS EVENT
118TRAFFIC ATTACHMENT
124ACCIDENT W/INJ – MEDIC REQ (PD)
132AGGRAVATED BATTERY BY SHOOTING
132AGGRAVATED RAPE
132BUSINESS BURGLARY
138QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUE
139WELFARE CHECK
147RECOVERY OF VEHICLE
163SUSPICIOUS VEHICLE
186DEATH
189ILLEGAL CARRYING OF WEAPON- GUN
197PICKPOCKET
212SHOTS FIRED
225SUICIDE THREAT
226MISSING JUVENILE
237TRESPASSING
241DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY
244VEHICLE RECOVERY
248INCIDENT REQUESTED BY ANOTHER AGENCY
256EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED PERSON
262MEDICAL INCIDENT (PD)
265DIRECTED TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT
269DRUG VIOLATIONS
275AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
278HIT & RUN WITH INJURIES
279RESIDENCE BURGLARY
283FLOOD EVENT
287DISABLED/STRANDED MOTORIST
291SIMPLE ASSAULT
296DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
307ABANDONED VEHICLE
307MISSING ADULT
317DIRECTED PATROL
338FUGITIVE ATTACHMENT
348BURGLARY FROM VEHICLE
411ACCIDENT – HIT & RUN
439VEHICLE STOLEN
485BURGLAR ALARM
504RECOVERY OF REPORTED STOLEN VEHICLE
507FIGHT
532ALARM: RESIDENTIAL – BURGLARY
537THEFT BY FRAUD
539DOMESTIC DISPUTE
577EXTORTION (THREATS)
598RECKLESS DRIVING
652HOLD UP ALARM
665MUNICIPAL ATTACHMENT
687SHOPLIFTING
690NOISE COMPLAINT
694LOST PROPERTY
697DISCHARGING FIREARM
762ALARM: COMMERCIAL – BURGLARY
784SIMPLE CRIMINAL DAMAGE
838ACCIDENT – PROPERTY DAMAGE
864PROWLER
(NOTE: The term “prowler,” as used by police departments, refers to someone who lurks or moves stealthily around a building or area, usually with the intent to commit a crime such as burglary or vandalism.)
881DISORDERLY CONDUCT
890SIMPLE BURGLARY VEHICLE
906SIMPLE BATTERY DOMESTIC
964INVESTIGATION: POLICE DEPARTMENT
1047AUTO ACCIDENT WITH INJURY
1196MENTAL PATIENT
1238TOW IMPOUNDED VEHICLE (PRIVATE)
1326SIMPLE BATTERY
1346AUTO THEFT
1399MEDICAL
1561BUSINESS CHECK
1798TRAFFIC STOP
1803THEFT
1863TRAFFIC INCIDENT
2014DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE
2075HIT & RUN
2847SUSPICIOUS PERSON
3561AUTO ACCIDENT
3698RETURN FOR ADDITIONAL INFO
4337BURGLAR ALARM
5707DISTURBANCE (OTHER)
6026MISCELLANEOUS COMPLAINT
8002AREA CHECK
20803COMPLAINT OTHER

4. Detroit, Michigan

RVing in Detroit, Michigan

RVing in Detroit, Michigan, carries distinct risks largely attributed to the city’s high crime rates. Detroit has frequently topped lists as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, with crime statistics significantly higher than national averages.

The city’s reputation for violence, including property crimes and violent assaults, makes it a challenging destination for RVers. Travelers often report feeling unsafe, especially in less secured parking areas or when parked overnight in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

Despite these challenges, there are safer options available for those visiting Detroit in an RV. Choosing well-monitored and gated campgrounds, such as those in the outskirts or designated fairgrounds, can provide a safer environment. These areas often feature better security measures and are located away from the high-crime zones of the city center.

Thus, while Detroit offers rich cultural and historical attractions, RVers must take careful precautions, select secure parking locations, and stay vigilant about their surroundings to ensure a safe visit.

5. East St. Louis Area

RVing in the East St. Louis area is considered dangerous due to its high crime rates. This region consistently ranks as one of the most crime-ridden areas in the United States, with statistics showing a particularly high incidence of violent crimes.

Travelers staying in RV parks within or near East St. Louis have reported feeling unsafe, especially at night. Incidents of theft, vandalism, and other crimes are not uncommon, but they can lead to a tense and worrisome experience for RVers.

The proximity to such an urban environment, while convenient for sightseeing, can lead to dangerous situations. Selecting well-secured parks with good safety reviews is important for those choosing to RV in this area. Opting for gated locations with security personnel can provide an added layer of protection and peace of mind during the stay.

6. Smoky Mountain National Park

Smoky Mountain National Park

Due to its rugged terrain and high visitor traffic, RVing in Smoky Mountain National Park presents unique challenges and risks. The park spans over 522,000 acres, filled with dense forests and mountainous roads, making navigation tricky and sometimes hazardous.

Statistically, the park has a notable record of vehicle accidents, being one of the most common causes of fatalities within the area. The winding, narrow roads and steep drop-offs require drivers to be highly alert and cautious. Even small mistakes can lead to serious accidents.

Moreover, the park’s natural beauty often distracts drivers, further increasing the risk of mishaps. Weather conditions such as fog, rain, and ice, particularly in the colder months, can dramatically reduce visibility and road traction.

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Travelers to Smoky Mountain National Park are advised to ensure their vehicles are well-maintained and to drive attentively at all times. Understanding the layout of the park and the specific conditions of the roads can also aid in ensuring a safer journey through this stunning but challenging landscape.

7. River Ridge, Louisiana (near New Orleans)

RV-ing in River Ridge, Louisiana, near New Orleans, presents unique safety concerns, primarily related to its proximity to an urban area known for high crime rates. While the gated campground in River Ridge itself might offer a sense of security, the broader region’s safety cannot be overlooked.

Visitors often report hearing gunshots from the campground, a stark reminder of the potential dangers lurking nearby. This unsettling experience highlights the unpredictability of the surrounding area, where crime can sometimes spill over into less expected places like campgrounds.

Moreover, when venturing out to iconic but crowded tourist spots like the French Quarter, RVers with families might feel particularly vulnerable. The area’s mix of bustling nightlife and narrow, crowded streets can make it challenging to keep close tabs on personal belongings and young family members, heightening the risk of theft or getting lost in the crowd.

In essence, while River Ridge offers a gated refuge, the nearby influences of New Orleans’ urban challenges necessitate extra vigilance and security measures for anyone staying in the area with an RV.

8. Wayne County Fairgrounds (near Detroit)

RVing in the Wayne County Fairgrounds near Detroit can be concerning due to the area’s high crime rates extending beyond the city’s core. Detroit has often been cited as one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, with crime statistics frequently topping national charts.

While the fairgrounds themselves are generally considered safe and well-managed, the proximity to areas with higher crime rates can pose risks. Travelers might encounter problems when venturing outside the relative safety of the fairgrounds, especially if exploring the surrounding neighborhoods where incidents of theft and violence are more common.

Despite these risks, many visitors choose to stay at the Wayne County Fairgrounds because of its security measures and the convenience it offers for visiting attractions in Detroit. However, it’s important for RVers to remain vigilant, ensure their vehicles are secure, and stay informed about the safety of areas they plan to visit.

9. Near the Mexico Border in Texas

The United States-Mexico border

RVing near the Mexico border in Texas can be risky due to several factors that contribute to its dangerous reputation. While rich in culture and history, this region is known for its unique challenges.

One primary concern is safety due to drug trafficking and human smuggling activities that are reported more frequently in this area than in many other parts of the United States. These activities can lead to unexpected and potentially dangerous encounters, especially in less populated and remote areas where many RVers might find themselves.

Additionally, border areas can be politically sensitive and heavily patrolled by Border Patrol agents. The presence of law enforcement and border security, including checkpoints, can lead to delays and require additional scrutiny of travelers. This high level of security, while meant to protect, can also lead to tense situations.

The terrain and climate pose further hazards. The landscape is often arid and can become extremely hot, particularly in summer. This environment demands a well-maintained RV to withstand the conditions without mechanical failures like overheating or tire issues.

Lastly, being far from standard emergency services and healthcare facilities can complicate matters if medical issues arise or if an accident occurs. The remoteness of this region makes quick access to help more difficult, increasing the risk for travelers.

Conclusion

As we wrap up our tour of spots to avoid on your RV adventures, remember that preparation is your best defense. Always research extensively, heed the experiences shared by fellow RVers, and stay vigilant to ensure your travels are memorable and safe.

The Most Dangerous Places to RV (Avoid at All Costs) [Video]

QUOTE:
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide

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