Dec 20 2009

A little-known RV option at Shaw AFB, SC

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Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina offers both a main RV park and a satellite RV park, but neither one provides a great solution for long-term stays. If you’re a “geographic bachelor” with a camper who’s newly assigned to the base — or if you’re a “snow bird” with an RV looking to winter near Fort Jackson or McEntire JNGB — or if you’re looking for an RV launchpad somewhere in the Carolinas—

Every lot at Sumter Trailer Court is spacious, not cramped

Every lot at Sumter Trailer Court is spacious, not cramped

—then you should consider Sumter Trailer Court on Peach Orchard Road at the intersection of Glenn Street.

Sumter Trailer Court has been around for more than 40 years and is run by the wife of a retired Chief Master Sergeant. Her son & grandson live on-site and they do the maintenance work. Every lot is spacious, not cramped. Some lots enjoy light-to-medium pine shade while others (like mine) receive full sunlight. You’ll find military vets here, of course, plus a couple of snow birds from around New England, and the occasional geographic bachelor.

You’ll find NO crack houses here. Police cruisers pass through every once in awhile just to be seen. An Air Force fence guards the north flank while Route 441 guards the west flank.

A spacious shaded lot with a 30-amp RV box at Sumter Trailer Court

A spacious shaded lot with a 30-amp RV box at Sumter Trailer Court

I use Sumter Trailer Court as an RV launchpad for three important reasons. First, it sits next to an Air Force Base where I can catch hops; second, there’s an RV sales & service center on the opposite side of the base; and third, it’s CHEAP. You’ll pay only $150/month to park your RV with water & sewer (!) in a region where ±$300/month is the norm. You’ll even qualify for a small discount if your RV has neither a washing machine nor a dishwasher.

Best of all: there’s no contract. You can stay as long as you wish and you can tow your RV in & out as often as you like.

Sumter Trailer Court sits one mile north of the primary Route 378/76 that leads to both the state capitol (45min west) and Myrtle Beach (2hrs east). It takes you directly to McEntire JNGB (19mi) and it skirts by Fort Jackson (53mi). You can reach Florence or Darlington in an hour; you can make it to Charleston or Charlotte in two hours. Raleigh-Durham, Asheville, Pinehurst, and Savannah are all within striking distance. It’s less than 300 miles to Atlanta or Jacksonville.

Another lot at Sumter Trailer Court with a 30-amp RV box

Another lot at Sumter Trailer Court with a 30-amp RV box

It’s a five-minute drive to either the main gate or the Rt 441 gate at Shaw AFB. A good 24/7 storage facility sits right in front of the flightline where you can watch F-16s come in on short final, and where you can catch a regular “Viper East” demo practice.

Travel one mile from the trailer court in either direction and you’ll find a McDonald’s, Subway, Pizza Hut, Sub Station II, Huddle House, Mr. Teriyaki, Thai Chili, plus four Italian restaurants (Stellato’s, Demara’s, Sambino’s, and Avanti [you must try the chef’s from scratch lasagna]). Georgio’s II, my favorite pizza joint, is 2.4 miles.

Want to eat in? Food Lion is a mile away and the commissary is on base. Do you like Asian groceries? A Korean store is almost within walking distance (I go there for kimchee). Don’t want to drive? You can practically stumble to the Time Out Lounge for a longneck. Don’t want to leave your RV? Pizza Hut will drive one mile to your doorstep.

This spacious lot at Sumter Trailer Court doesn't yet have a 30-amp or 50-amp RV box

This spacious lot at Sumter Trailer Court doesn't yet have a 30-amp or 50-amp RV box

Eight miles away in the town of Sumter you’ll find a Super Wal-Mart, Lowes, Staples, Belk’s, and Sears. Restaurants include Logan’s, Outback, Chili’s, and Golden Corral. Upscale diners/delis include Five Guys (yes!), Firehouse Subs, and Jersey Mike’s.

I take my pet to the animal clinic one mile down the road. The two fuel stations in front of Wal-Mart (one is a truck stop) sell the cheapest diesel in a 30-mile radius. Simpson’s Hardware sells the cheapest propane refill, period.


“Waitaminit, Rob. $150 with no contract right next to an Air Force Base? With water & sewer plus a wide lot? And four Italian sit-down restaurants within a mile? What’s the catch?” Good question. Know this:

  1. You need to put the electric meter, cable, DSL, and/or phone line in your own name. On the bright side: you’ll only pay for utilities you use and you’ll always get the same spot when you return from an RV trip. Power is very reliable (probably due to its proximity to the air base), going 4-5 months at a time with rock-steady 60hz varying 118-124v.
  2. Most streets at Sumter Trailer Court look like this ... with one major exception

    Most streets at Sumter Trailer Court look like this ... with one major exception

    If you fall in love with a spot that doesn’t already have a 30/50amp post, then you’ll need to pay for materials & labor to get it installed.
  3. You need to pay the first six months up front. (Military members can ask to waive this.) From then on it’s monthly with no contract. On the bright side: you’ll only pay rent for the months you keep an electric meter on the lot.
  4. There are only two entrances, each with its own problems. The south entrance connects at the edge of a blind curve; a short stretch of the north entrance suffers from chronic severe potholes. You might ask “what about that third entrance along the base fence line?” The answer is “that intersection is blockaded.”
  5. You’ll experience the same “sounds of freedom” the RVers at Shaw AFB put up with for twice the price. This includes F-16 takeoffs and “giant voice” announcements. If you ever lived in Air Force housing, then you probably already know what it’s like. I’ve used Sumter Trailer Court as an RV launchpad for 2½yrs and I assure you, the folks here seldom lose sleep.
  6. You need to mow your own lawn and do mild seasonal ant control. On the bright side, the maintenance man’s son has a mower and he’ll do jobs for you.
  7. Water at very high pressure runs clean at Sumter Trailer Court

    Water at very high pressure runs clean at Sumter Trailer Court

    You must use a pressure regulator as you will be very close to the Shaw AFB water tower. The water runs very clean: you can cook with & drink it without a filter.
  8. You’ll find no fire rings, no swingsets, no picnic tables, no pool, no community center, no bath house, no fishing pond, no wi-fi. It’s a trailer court, not an RV park. Visit Lowes if you want a picnic table, grill, or fire ring.

So! Check out Sumter Trailer Court if you’re looking for a long-term RV stay near Shaw AFB. And tell ‘em Rob sent you! (Uh, I don’t get a commission of any sort. I’m just helping them out with a page on the web.)

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