Photo credit: Allan Clark

Photo credit: Allan Clark

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Think back to any photo you’ve seen depicting what it is like to camp with an RV. Family members smile while sharing marshmallows to make S’mores. In the background, rugged mountains are reflected in a shimmering sapphire blue lake right by the RV campsite. That’s what RV camping is all about isn’t it? Not if you decide to drive a 31-foot RV through downtown Washington DC.

On the first day of our El Monte RV Fly ‘N Drive rental program, we decided to make a quick stop and visit our daughter, who works in DC. With the Fly ‘N Drive program, we planned on using the one-way rental option and end up in Los Angeles. Our daughter’s office is right next to the Capital building, which happens to be one of the most congested areas of an uber-congested city.

Heed my advice. Unless you happen to be a skilled truck driver, (like my husband Allan) it’s best to leave the RV as far from DC as possible. We encountered several accidents, causing traffic to be backed up for miles. Within one block of our daughter’s office, a young, stern-faced security guard motioned us to make a U-turn and head back the way we came. He wasn’t very interested in my charming story about how we were trying to pick up our cute daughter to go to dinner. Allan tried to comply with the U-Turn request, which wasn’t easy in a large vehicle with a wide tuning radius.

Photo credit: Allan Clark

Photo credit: Allan Clark

Parking an RV in Downtown DC

He eventually found three open parking spaces, (Yes, the RV needs three spaces!) and pulled the RV to the curb. When my daughter came out of the office and saw her parents in a huge RV outside her office, she quickly muttered, “Why can’t you pick me up in a rental car like other people who visit DC?” Another 15 minutes of driving and we arrived at her house…a mere four blocks away.

DC is a wonderful city to visit for free museums and attractions. It’s just not designed to be navigated with an RV. If you really want to attempt driving into Washington DC in an RV, park at the oversized parking lot available at Union Station. You’ll be centrally located to walk to all the major attractions. Just make sure your vehicle is no higher than 13 feet!

To preserve your nerves and possibly your fenders, camp at the Cherry Hill Campground outside DC. We’ve camped there several times and are always impressed with the professionalism and friendliness of the staff. Best of all, a city bus stops at the campground and takes you to the Metro. A few quick stops and you arrive in downtown DC. After a busy day of touring our nation’s capital, simply take the Metro back to your quiet campground where you can smile and share marshmallow’s to make S’mores. Just like in all the RV camping brochures!