One afternoon during a trip across the country in our fifth wheel, we were racing the sun to an RV park before sunset. We were driving through Georgia and convenient RV parks near the highway were sparse. Hard Labor Creek State Park was near our path and reachable before dark.
That evening we had very unpleasant lessons in maneuvering tight spaces in a park built years ago for much smaller RV's. Let me start by saying that Hard Labor Creek State Park near Rutledge, Georgia, is a very nice park with many activities nearby. The lots were all shaded with mature trees in a wooded setting. Our experience was soured only because we were in a 36' fifth wheel and the staff did not warn us about the tight conditions in the park, even though we specifically asked while making reservations.
We called the park from the road and reserved the last open slot for the evening. We asked and they reassured us that the slots are large enough to accommodate the 36' trailer and truck. By the time we reached the park, the January sun was close to setting and left us with just enough sunlight to set up camp.
The park seemed inviting with large trees next to all paths and over the campsites. As we drove further into the park, the road narrowed to the point that only about a foot remained on each side of the wheels. Evidence of vehicles going off the pavement were recorded by many deep gashes in the asphalt. Parts of the pavement were broken off along the edges almost everywhere.
Taking great care to stay on the pavement, we towed the RV over very narrow roads deeper into the park. Our slot appeared unoccupied, but a slip of paper attached to the board indicated that it was reserved by someone else. We called the office to let them know that our slot was already taken. They apologized and graciously offered us their truly last slot-the handicapped space.
In most RV parks the roads are loops, allowing entrance on one side and exit on the other. This road was not a loop, but it did have a small circle on the end for turning around. As we pulled up to the turn-around circle, my heart sank when I saw how small it was and that the middle was full of trees. I was convinced that we would not be able to turn around. Backing up was not an option either-that section of the road was several hundred feet long, hemmed in by trees on both sides.
I got out of the truck and walked around the circle to get a better look. On one side of the circle a steep, wooded hill descended down to the lake. On all other sides trees and vehicles made for a narrow passage. Having no other good choices, I decided that we can probably make the turn by going off the pavement in a couple of places. A small audience of campers looked on, wondering how we are going to get out of this predicament.
With my wife's assistance outside, I managed to make the turn by dragging the left wheels of the RV through the mud. At this point we should have considered ourselves lucky and left the park. Assuming that it could not get any worse, and needing full hookups for the night, we drove to the handicapped slot.
The handicapped slot was deep and wide, but the entrance was obstructed by large, decorative boulders and trees. After numerous attempts of going around the obstacles in reverse, we backed the trailer into the slot.
By the time we hooked up all facilities it was completely dark. A neighbor walking his dog stopped by to tell us he was watching as we were backing in the trailer, and was surprised we got it in. He was in a smaller RV now, but in the past he has brought his 30' trailer to Hard Labor Creek and felt it was a challenge parking it.
In the morning we got an early start, but first had to deal with getting out of the slot. Exiting had its own challenges due to the obstructions in front of the entrance and railroad ties bordering the sides. No matter how we positioned the trailer in the slot, we were unable to clear about two feet of the railroad tie. In the end we used scraps of lumber to build up a small ramp so we could tow the trailer's left wheels onto the railroad tie and down the other side.
As you can imagine, we happily left this park behind. If you are considering RV camping in Hard Labor Creek State Park with a 30' or longer RV, call ahead and reserve one of the few pull through slots. If those are not available, please re-consider, unless you are an expert at maneuvering in tight spaces and don't mind a bit of "hard labor".
Charles Kerekes is a fulltime RVer traveling the US with his family and maintains the ChanginGears.com RV web site.