Google Earth

For many RVers Google Earth is an indispensible tool, while other RVers have never heard of Google Earth. Let's take a look at what Google Earth is and how you can use it to gather a cornucopia of useful information to help plan your next RV trip.

What is Google Earth? 

Google Earth is a virtual globe, road atlas and three dimensional topographical map all rolled into one allowing you to fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, street view photos and a host of additional information. By using the tool bar and your computer curser you can determine distance between points, lengths, slopes and more. You can download it for free here.
Note: Standard Google Earth (not Pro) provides all the information an active RVer needs.

What information can Google Earth provide a RVer?

In satellite mode Google Earth can allow you to view RV parks & campgrounds in advance.

Useful applications include:

•    Zoom in to see the true length of the campsites

•    This is especially useful when a forest service campground states 22 ft maximum RV length - Google Earth may show many sites are longer than this.

•    See how the campsites are laid out

•    Will your door face your neighbors door?  Will you share a common patio with your neighbor?

•    Is the campground located next to railroad tracks, a major highway or airport? Google Earth will show you this and how far away these irritating noise sources are.

•    See how much and which way a campsite slopes, if any.

•    See if there are shade trees and grass.

•    See if the sites are really waterfront like the campground directory states.

•    Show you the access road, how much is paved and how much is graveled.

•    Show you where other RVers have disperse camped (aka boondocking).

•    Click here for tips on using Google Earth to find boondocking sites.

Once you have determined the campground, RV park or boondocking site that is right for you, just record the coordinates at the bottom of the Google Earth screen, enter them into your GPS and you are on your way!

In street view mode Google Earth can:

(Click here for a short tutorial on how to use street view)

•    Show you the entrance to a RV park. Is it dumpy looking or worthy of a five star rating?

•    Allow you to determine which carwashes are drive through self service that can accommodate your RV rather than automated ones that can't.

•    Determine the clearance of a parking garage that will accommodate your tall tow vehicle when you venture into the city to see the sights.

•    Allow you to find a boondocking site.

•    For example to find a boondocking site using street view, let Google Earth take you to N44° 15.385  W117° 08.273 where you will see RVs camped along the river. Activate street view and then rotate the view to the northwest where will you will see different RVs camped along the river.

Google Earth photos can:

(Click here for an explanation of photos)

•    Show you scenic places to visit along your route.

•    Show pictures of the campground you are looking to stay at.

•    Show you pictures of where other RVers have disperse camped (aka boondocked).

•    For an example let Google Earth take you to N32° 53.280  W114° 50.335 and click on the picture entitled "Dry Camping".

These are just a few of the many useful applications of Google Earth a RVer can use to their advantage. If you aren't doing so already, incorporate Google Earth into planning your next RV trip, because as the old saying goes, "a photo is worth a thousand words".

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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