How to Level an RV on Gravel: A Step-by-Step Guide for Newbies

As someone who’s been RVing for over a decade now, let me be the first to welcome you to a lifetime of adventure on the open road. Leveling an RV, especially on uneven gravel sites, can be tricky for beginners. But have no fear – with this step-by-step guide, you’ll be a pro in no time.

Choose a Nice Level Spot

The first step is scouting a good level site to park your RV. When you arrive at the campground, take a little walk around and inspect the different sites. Look for one that’s as flat and level as possible – this will make your job much easier. Steer clear of sites with a major slant or slope to them.

You’ll also want to make sure the ground is nicely packed gravel rather than loose rocks and dirt. Loose surfaces can potentially sink and shift as you level and stabilize the RV. Packed gravel gives you a nice solid base.

Check for large rocks, branches, holes, stumps, or anything else that could get in the way of leveling. It’s best to choose a site with minimal debris that could block the RV wheels and jacks.

If you’re having trouble finding a perfectly flat spot, don’t worry. We can work with less than ideal terrain by leveling from side to side first. But the flatter the better, so take your time picking a site.

Clear Debris from the Leveling Points

Once you’ve selected the best site, do a quick sweep of the immediate area around where you’ll be leveling. Remove any rocks, sticks, acorns, and other debris from the spots where you’ll be placing the RV jacks and stabilizers.

The last thing you want is a leveling block perched precariously on a loose rock or the stabilizing jacks sunk into a bed of acorns. So take a minute to clear anything that could interfere with solid contact between the RV and the leveling equipment.

Make sure you check the following zones:

  • Around each front landing jack
  • Beneath the rear stabilizers
  • Around each wheel where you’ll place leveling blocks

This simple step will provide a stable base for the RV and prevent any shifting, sliding, or sinking as you level.

Level from Side to Side First

Now comes the actual leveling. The proper sequence is to level from side to side first, then adjust the front to back. If you try leveling front to back first, you could potentially twist and distort the RV frame.

So always start with the side to side. Place a bubble level against the exterior wall in the middle of the RV. Or go inside and set a level on the floor.

Check which side is higher and which side is lower. The low side is where you’ll start placing your leveling blocks.

Use Leveling Blocks on the Low Side

There are a couple of different types of leveling blocks you can use. These sturdy ramps lift the wheels to make the RV level when parked on uneven ground.

One popular style is interlocking plastic or composite blocks that can be stacked together in different configurations. Another option is molded polyurethane blocks with a gradual sloped ramp.

Whichever style you choose, place blocks under the wheels on the side of the RV that’s lower. You may need several stacked blocks on this side to lift it to match the higher side.

Make sure the blocks sit fully under the wheels, not half-on and half-off. This can put pressure on the block and cause it to split or crack. Center them evenly under the tires for maximum stability.

Carefully Drive Onto the Blocks

Next, carefully drive the front RV tires up onto the leveling blocks. Go slowly and make adjustments as needed until the side-to-side level is even.

If you need more lift, add another block. If it’s too high, remove one. Have an assistant guide you to make sure the RV clears the blocks and remains centered.

Watch the level indicator inside the RV as you drive up on the blocks. When the bubble is perfectly centered, your rig is level side to side.

Chock the Wheels

Once you have the RV level from side to side, chock the wheels so it doesn’t roll. Slide sturdy wheel chocks tightly against the front and back of each tire.

Having the wheels chocked will prevent the RV from shifting off the blocks as you complete the leveling process. It also keeps the RV securely in place after it’s fully leveled and stabilized.

Make sure you use wheel chocks and not just a couple of stray bricks or rocks. Commercial chocks are engineered to grip the tire tread and hold the full weight of the RV.

Adjust the Tongue Jack

Now that the RV is level from side to side, it’s time to adjust the tongue jack to level front to back.

Crank the tongue jack up or down to raise or lower the front. Keep an eye on your level indicator inside as you turn the jack. Raise the jack until the RV is perfectly level front to back.

If your RV doesn’t have a built-in level, set a small spirit level on the floor near the front and back. Adjust the jack until the bubble reads level at both ends.

This step balances the distribution of weight and prevents stress on the chassis. Taking the time to properly level front to back will extend the life of your rig.

Set the Stabilizing Jacks

Once fully level, deploy the stabilizing jacks at the rear corners of the RV. Crank them down until they just touch the gravel – you don’t want to lift the tires off the blocks.

Stabilizers keep the RV from rocking and bouncing as you move around inside. They redistribute motion so the RV doesn’t sway on the leveling blocks.

Make sure you extend your stabilizing jacks onto solid blocks or pads. Don’t sink them right into soft gravel or dirt. Again, this prevents shifting and instability.

Do a Final Level Check

Before buttoning up, do one final level check to make sure everything looks good. Jostle the RV a bit to see if it rocks or shifts. Everything should stay nice and even.

Walk the perimeter and eyeball the distance from the tires to the wheel wells. Make minor tweaks with the jacks and blocks if needed.

And of course, double check your interior level. Scan the length of the RV to see if the bubble stays centered. If so, you’re all dialed in!

If one end is a little off, make small adjustments to the jacks and blocks until it’s perfectly level. Take your time and get it right before settling in.

Leveling on Gravel vs. Pavement

Leveling on gravel requires more care and preparation than a paved site. Loose gravel can shift, sink, and conform to the weight and movement of the RV. That’s why it’s so important to choose a packed gravel base and use blocks and pads.

On asphalt or concrete, you don’t have to worry as much about stabilizing or sliding. But you still need to follow the proper leveling sequence and use blocks to compensate for sloped or uneven pavement.

Make sure to use plastic, wood, or foam blocks on blacktop so the jacks and stabilizers don’t chew up the pavement. This avoids leaving marks and divots at the site.

Watch Out for This Common Mistake

Now that you know the complete step-by-step process, beware of this super common rookie mistake:

Only leveling front-to-back using the tongue jack, without addressing the side to side.

I see lots of first-timers (and even some veteran RVers!) make this error. They’ll pull into the site, crank up the tongue jack until the RV “looks level”, then call it good.

Without using blocks to level side-to-side first, the RV can be twisted slightly. This puts pressure on the structural frame. It also creates annoying sloping floors and cabinet doors inside.

Always tackle side-to-side leveling first, or pay the price with crooked cupboard doors and uncomfortable sleeping angles!

Modifications for Travel Trailers vs. Motorhomes

The basic principles of leveling are the same whether you have a travel trailer or a motorhome. But there are a few differences in the equipment and execution:

Travel Trailers:

  • Use tongue jack to level front-to-back
  • Leveling blocks under tires to even side-to-side
  • Rear stabilizing jacks at back corners


  • Front jacks on landing legs to level front-to-back
  • Blocks under drive wheels to fix side-to-side
  • Rear stabilizers midway down the frame

Travel trailers are relatively lightweight and compact, so the tongue jack does the lifting. With a big heavy motorhome, large front landing jacks mounted mid-coach are required.

But regardless of the equipment, always start with side-to-side before addressing front-to-back. Stabilize at the end. This formula works for any type of RV.

Tips for Quick and Easy Leveling

With practice, you’ll be able to get your RV perfectly level in just a few minutes. Here are my best tips for quick and effortless leveling:

  • Bring multiples of each – blocks, chocks, pads. That way you can stack and combine as needed.
  • Color code your blocks with paint or tape. This helps you identify heights and makes reassembly easier.
  • Get help spotting the first time so you don’t misjudge distances or scrape jacks on blocks.
  • Work in smaller increments – make gradual adjustments rather than cranking jacks and spinning tires.
  • Keep a bag with level, gloves, pads and blocks handy so they don’t get buried in the depths of your cargo bay.
  • Learn the nuances of your particular RV’s default angle of repose. Then you can anticipate how much to raise, lower and stabilize.

Take the time to develop a system that works for you. With routine practice, you’ll be a leveling expert in no time flat!

Don’t Forget the Wheels When Parked

Once you’re all leveled out, resist the urge to just set the parking brake and call it good. For maximum stability, wheels should be immobilized with chocks, not just the brake.

This prevents even minimal rolling that could compromise your leveling job. It also keeps the RV securely in place if the ground settles.

Any time your RV is parked – whether leveled or not – chock the wheels. Think of it as cheap insurance against a big hassle down the road.

Make it part of your arrival routine:

  1. Pull into site
  2. Set parking brake
  3. Chock wheels
  4. Level RV
  5. Chock wheels again!

Time to Relax and Enjoy!

That covers the basic steps for safely and efficiently leveling your home on wheels on a gravel site. Take it slow your first few times until the process feels natural. With enough practice setting up on various terrain, you’ll gain confidence and find your ideal system.

The most important thing is making sure your RV is solidly positioned for comfortable camping. So don’t rush – methodically work through each step and double-check your level at the end. Taking a few extra minutes up front prevents aggravation later!

About Author