What Is Quiet Time at a Campground? (Generator Noise Limit)

Quiet time is a rule. At most campgrounds, you will find that they have instituted a mandatory quiet time for all campers. The reason they do this is that many of their guests shave to get up early the next morning and move to their next destination.

At a KOA campground, quiet time is set at 10 p.m. That does not mean you have to go to bed at that time. It just means you do not turn on the radio, or loud generators, or make other noise while you are enjoying your campfire. Kids should be quiet at this time as well.

To learn more about this topic, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can act appropriately when you arrive at any given campground. Take a few minutes to see how this information will help you be a good neighbor.

What is Quiet Time At a Campground?


Quiet time is when your noise level should not exceed your camping spot boundaries. At the KOA sites, that time is usually between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. This designation seems to be fairly standard across the nation with some exceptions.

This time period is an act of courtesy as you respect the fact that some campers go to bed early as they like to get up early. Whether they are leaving or just want to enjoy the morning, does not matter. Being quiet after ten respects the way they live their lifestyles.

They will be courteous to you when you want to sleep in by not making a lot of noise prior to 6 a.m. or even a short time after that. When you live in close quarters, you do not have to be hard nosed about the rules and start making noise at 6:01 a.m.

Be respectful and just try to be as quiet as you can until everyone is up and starting their day. Play it by ear as you may have fewer neighbors in some campgrounds and that situation may be more flexible when it comes to noise.

Campground Noise Levels

This may vary between campgrounds. The National Parks have set a noise level for generators at 60 decibels at 50 feet away from the device. The KOA camping system has set the same level for sound but not for distance.

If you are going to use a generator at a KOA it should not make more than 60 decibels of noise at any given time. But using a generator at a KOA is not necessary as the company provides electrical power at almost all of its 500+ locations.

You would have to check with the individual campgrounds you are looking to stay at. They will have rules and their rules may vary slightly from other locations. Some may place their quiet time between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m.

If you need to use a generator as some campgrounds do not supply power, the best option will be an inverter model. These produce noise levels between 50 and 70 decibels which is the same as a normal conversation, a car, and a refrigerator, with the last one on the low end of the scale.

Regular generators produce noise levels between 80 and 100 decibels, approx., which puts them on par with a truck, hair dryer, and a helicopter. Of course, the noise your generator makes will depend on its brand.

Campground Noise Complaint

While most RV owners and other campers like to hear nature when they are in a campground, their neighbors may not be so inclined. They tend to break the rules and make a lot of noise while they stay next to you.

While some campers do not mind the noise during the day, they change their minds when they are trying to get some sleep. Before you complain about the noise there are some steps you can take to avoid the situation.

Those steps include

- parking in campgrounds with lots of space around you

- introducing yourself to your new neighbors so you have a connection

- be polite and remind them of the rules

If these options do not work, you may have to complain to the campground host or call law enforcement when the hosts do not respond or handle the situation.

If you or your neighbor continue to break the rules, you can be forced to leave. The key is not to act in a manner that will escalate the problem and make it violent.

What Time is Noise Classed as a Nuisance?


This will depend on the type of noise you hear. Some people do not mind some level of noise when it is daytime. They will put up with generators, shouting, and other normal noise when they are not trying to sleep.

But loud music may not be one of those noise options they will tolerate. So during those daytime hours, it will depend on the type of noise being made before it is classified as a nuisance.

Usually, it is that magical 10 p.m. hour that any type of loud noise will be considered a nuisance. Even conversations above a whisper can be considered a nuisance if your neighbor is quite close to your camping spot.

Then that nuisance rule will be in effect until 6 a.m. or maybe even 7 a.m. when quiet time is over. Of course, the nuisance label will be applied by the campground host and it will be whatever time they say it will be.

The best thing to do is be a good example. Follow the noise rules so you are not part of the problem and considered to be a nuisance.

Campsite Noise Rules And Ordinance

These can and will vary between campgrounds. If the campground is individually owned and not a corporation like KOSA then the rules will differ in some way from other campgrounds.

The best thing to do is ask for the rules when you make your reservation. That way you are aware of what is expected of you when you arrive and stay at the campground.

Some campgrounds may have set a few campsites aside for generator specific use. Their rules may differ from those campgrounds that don’t do this. Usually, they won’t allow generators that go above 60 decibels.

Also, screaming kids, laughter, loud conversations, radios, stereos, and loud television sets will not be allowed to take place after 10 p.m. and before 6 a.m. depending on when that specific campground has its quiet time.

It is difficult to get more specific than this as there are so many campgrounds across the nation and they all set their own rules. Barking dogs may also be a problem if their bark gets too loud and does not turn off after a short while.

National Park Service Campground Noise Requirements

In 1972 a law was passed concerning this issue. It is called the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the gist of this act says, “This act establishes a national policy to promote an environment free from noise that jeopardizes health and welfare.” You can read it at this link.

Another National Park Service web page states: “Quiet hours are posted in most campgrounds, typically for a range of time (such as 10 p.m. - 6 a.m.). While some people like to stay up late, others like to get up early. Be courteous to your neighbors and observe the quiet times. Use the time to enjoy a symphony of natural sounds. However, courtesy does not end when quiet hours do, so keep in mind that others are sharing the campground as well, and see that your fun does not get in the way of others' fun.”

You can read it at this link as that web page has more rules on lights, etc. Campground etiquette extends beyond the noise and makes sure you get permission before you enter another person’s campsite.

When you get to the National park you are going to stay at, you can ask the park ranger for more details on their rules about noise, etc.

How Loud Can a Generator Be in a Campground?


According to the National Parks system and KOA, the level of noise your generator is allowed to produce is 60 decibels. This level does seem to be the standard across all campgrounds in the nation.

There may be slight differences in the rules for other campgrounds but this is the general level you are allowed. But generators are not the only noise making devices you will find in an RV or trailer.

There are other noise making devices like your computer games, videos, television sets, stereos, and so on that need to abide by the rules and not disturb your neighbors.

While most people focus on generators, those other electronic devices cannot be overlooked either. Quiet time is for all devices, not just generators. It also includes fun time, game playing, and singing around a campfire.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the rules are made only for generators. Even keep hair dryers off at night as they can be quite loud especially when your neighbor is only a few feet away from the next campsite.

Campground Generator Noise Limit

Most campgrounds, as we just said, set their own rules. But generally speaking, your generator should not be louder than 60 decibels. One owner found out the hard way when he bought a generator on sale at a big box store.

Not only was the device too loud, but he also found that noise makers do not make friends at any campground. If you want to make friends as you camp, keep your generator on low or have a quiet model.

Also, police your own noise for other devices and activities. It isn’t just generators that make noise. While many campgrounds may not mention those other electronic devices, they are included in the rules about noise as well.

You will find that many RV owners and campers will do their best to obey the rules. They know what they want when they go camping so they do not try to disturb their neighbors when they are supposed to be quiet.

There are just a few rotten apples that do not heed the rules and disturb everyone at some point during the camping season.

National Park Approved Generators

Here is what the National Park Rule 36 CFR Section 2.12 says about generators and overall noise:

Operating motorized equipment or machinery such as an electric generating plant, motor vehicle, motorized toy, or an audio device, such as a radio, television set, tape deck or musical instrument, in a manner: (i) That exceeds a noise level of 60 decibels measured on the A-weighted scale at 50 feet; or, if below that level, nevertheless; (ii) makes noise which is unreasonable, considering the nature and purpose of the actor’s conduct, location, time of day or night, purpose for which the area was established, impact on park users, and other factors that would govern the conduct of a reasonably prudent person under the circumstances.”

You can read it and the explanation at this link. Read the explanation carefully as the Park Rangers are given wide latitude when it comes to any noise, not just generator noise. The electronic generating plant would refer to a generator.

The key is not to use a generator or other electronic device that will disturb your neighbors. That key covers a lot of gray area and makes the determination fairly subjective in nature.

Do White Noise Machines Really Work?


White noise machines do work. Their intended purpose is to drown out other annoying sounds that would prevent you from going to sleep and remaining asleep. They tend to mask those harsh sounds so your sleep is not interrupted.

What constitutes white noise is the constant soothing sound that lets your brain relax so you can get some sleep. There are different studies done that have shown that these machines do work.

While the percentage of people who use a white noise machine is small, those people who use it report they get better sleep with the machine than without it. If you are traveling with a young child, these machines seem to be effective in getting the difficult baby to sleep easier.

Your results may differ. Of course, you do not need a white noise machine to get the effects of one. Even a fan going in your room can effectively drown out loud outside noises and let you rest.

Or you can set up some other device that provides a soothing sound you like to hear and achieve the same results.

Best Camping White Noise Machine

We will provide a short list of white noise machines that can be used for camping. Whether they are the best overall is determined by the results you get. This list is meant to just get you on the right track to finding the perfect white noise machine for your camping situation.

1. Sweet Zzz White Noise Machine- costs $90 but it comes with a set of buttons to help you program the sounds you want to listen to as you go to sleep.

It comes with a 12-hour battery, automatic shut off and a night light in case you need to get up. Its compact size makes it great for camping and traveling.

2. Hatch Restore- a little more expensive at $130 but it comes with a variety of white noise options as well as an early morning alarm. The sunrise alarm mimics natural light so you are not jarred awake.

This device is highly programmable making it easy for you to fall asleep. There is a 1-year warranty included.

3. Yogasleep Dohm Classic Natural Sound Machine- This is an economical white noise machine. It costs roughly $45 but it comes with a 1-year warranty and is easy to use.

Plus, there is a two volume system allowing you to set the noise level a little louder if you want. The design is simple and very basic.

4. Loftie Clock- This is the most expensive white noise machine on this list. It costs $145 but its features include a night light, and alarm, and can act as a speaker system. A back-up battery provides you with extra security so it runs when the power is out.

Once you go shopping you will find that there is a myriad of white noise machines on sale. They come with different features to help you sleep better.

Some Final Words

Camping is a lot of fun, except when the neighbors make too much noise. Respect the rules so you are not part of the noise problem. And if it works for you, buy a quiet inverter generator so you broaden your campground options.

Just observe quiet time with more than your generator and your camping time should be enhanced. Plus, you won’t have trouble with the neighbors.

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