We all have many years of driving experience under our belts. But, because of that, we sometimes take for granted many of the signs we see on the road, such as the winding road sign.
When you’re towing a camper, it’s important to pay attention to the signs you see both for safety and convenience. Towing a camper can significantly change how your vehicle handles on the road. Situations that you can easily correct without a camper can become a lot more challenging when towing one. That’s why I pay a lot more attention to a winding road sign when towing a camper!
Paying attention to signage can help you anticipate a potentially hazardous driving condition. Then respond early enough to avoid it.
Of course, not every road sign is a warning to be cautious. Many provide helpful information while heading to your next campsite. It’s good to refresh our memory about what the different road signs mean so we can appropriately respond when we see them.
Below, I provide a review of 20 road signs you might encounter on your next camping trip. And for those signs that indicate a warning to drivers (such as the winding road sign), I describe how you should respond when towing a camper behind your vehicle.
Road Sign Categories
Road signs are divided into 6 classes based on their primary function. Each class of road sign has its own color scheme to make them easy to identify on the road.
Yellow road signs are meant to warn you about changing road conditions ahead. Some examples include a winding road sign, a hill with grade sign, or slippery when wet signs. These signs are meant to prompt drivers to slow down, pay attention, and exercise caution while driving.
Green road signs exist to provide drivers with guidance. They are used to guide drivers to a specific destination or provide information about nearby services or attractions. Examples of green road signs include exit signs, distance signs, and signs indicating directions to tourist attractions. These signs are designed to help drivers navigate unfamiliar areas and find their way to their intended destination.
White or red road signs indicate rules of the road. These signs are designed to inform drivers of traffic regulations and provide guidance on safe driving practices. Examples of white road signs include speed limit signs and one-way signs. These signs are meant to be obeyed by all drivers to ensure safety on the roads. White road signs can also be used to provide information on parking regulations, such as no parking or handicap parking only signs.
Orange road signs indicate construction or maintenance zones. These signs are designed to warn drivers of upcoming road work and to provide guidance on how to navigate through the construction zone safely. Examples of orange road signs include road work ahead, detour ahead, and flagman ahead signs. These signs are meant to prompt drivers to slow down, exercise caution, and be prepared for changes in traffic patterns. In some cases, orange road signs may also indicate temporary hazards, such as uneven pavement, loose gravel, or road damage.
Blue road signs indicate services and facilities available to motorists. These signs are designed to provide drivers with information about nearby amenities and services. Examples of blue road signs include signs indicating rest areas, food and lodging options, and hospitals. These signs are meant to help drivers plan their travel and locate necessary services while on the road.
Brown road signs indicate recreational or cultural points of interest. These signs are meant to help drivers plan their travel and explore areas of interest along their route. Examples of brown road signs include signs indicating parks, historical sites, and scenic routes.
Warning Signs (Yellow)
Winding Road Sign
The winding road sign indicates that the road ahead has a series of winding turns or curves that you should be prepared for. Upcoming road conditions may require you to slow down and adjust your driving accordingly.
If you’re towing a camper, the weight and length of the trailer can affect your vehicle’s handling, especially when navigating tight curves. It is best to slow down, downshifting if necessary, until you’re through the curves.
Bridge Ices Before Road Sign
This sign indicates that the bridge ahead is likely to become icy before the rest of the road. So, if you’re driving in winter be sure to pay special attention to this sign. I felt this effect just last weekend towing a snowmobile trailer over a bridge!
If you’re towing a camper it is important that you slow down before the bridge. The camper can make the vehicle more difficult to control on an icy surface.
Slippery When Wet Sign
This sign indicates that the road ahead may become slippery and hazardous when wet due to rain, ice, or other weather conditions. Exercise caution when approaching and navigating through the area.
If you’re towing a camper, slow down and avoid sudden movements or braking that could cause your camper to skid or slide. Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel.
Road Narrows Sign
This sign indicates that the road ahead will be narrowing ahead. You should slow down and adjust your position on the road accordingly to avoid conflicts with other road users.
If you’re towing a camper, slow down (I know, I’m like a broken record!), and watch for obstacles in the road that might be harder to respond to with narrow lanes.
Curve Ahead Sign
This sign warns you that there is a curve or bend in the road ahead. The sign is usually associated with a recommended speed to navigate the curve.
If you’re towing a camper slow down and be prepared to reduce your speed even further as you approach the curve. You should also make sure that your trailer is properly loaded and balanced so that it does not shift or become unstable when you go around the curve.
Wildlife Warning Signs
As a wildlife biologist, these are my favorite road signs because I want to see those animals! These signs alert you to the potential danger of wildlife being on the roadway or entering it suddenly. The sign is typically placed in areas where there is a high risk of animal-vehicle collisions. Crashes with large mammals can be deadly!
If you’re towing a camper, slow down and exercise caution because you may lose control of your vehicle if you need to stop suddenly. Be especially cautious at dawn and dusk when it’s harder to see animals.
Road Grade Sign
This sign indicates the downhill slope of the road ahead, typically expressed as a percentage.It’s important to control your speed during these sections of highway.
If you’re towing a camper you should slow down and shift to a lower gear. You may also need to apply the brakes more frequently to control your speed. Keep a lookout for other warning signs that indicate steep curves or narrow roads, as these can further impact your ability to maneuver safely.
This sign indicates there is a sudden and significant dip or depression in the road ahead. This dip could cause the vehicle and trailer to bounce or bottom out if the driver is traveling too fast
If you’re towing a camper and you see this sign, you should slow down and be prepared to reduce your speed even further as you approach the dip.
Low Ground Clearance Sign
This sign indicates that there is a hump or crest in the road ahead which could cause the underside of your vehicle or camper to scrape or bottom out if you are not careful.
If you’re towing a camper you may need to detour to avoid getting stuck on the hump.
Falling Rock Sign
This sign is used on roads to alert you of the potential danger of falling rocks or boulders on the road.
If you’re towing a camper, slow down and be alert for rocks in the road to avoid as early as possible.
Road Construction and Maintenance Signs (Orange)
Flagger Ahead Sign
This sign indicates that a flagger is present to control traffic flow ahead. Slowly approach the flagger, even if they are holding a “Slow” sign and be prepared to stop if necessary.
If you’re towing a camper, give yourself extra time and space to react to the flagger’s signals.
Road Work Ahead Sign
This sign indicates that there is road work or construction ahead, and you should be prepared for potential delays or changes in traffic flow. The sign is typically placed in advance of the construction zone, and may be accompanied by additional signs indicating the type of work being done, lane closures, speed limits, or detours.
Shoulder Closed Ahead Sign
This sign indicates that the shoulder of the road will be closed or unavailable for a certain distance ahead. The shoulder is the paved area located alongside the roadway that is typically used for emergency stopping or for the passage of slow-moving vehicles.
The sign is often used in construction zones, where workers are performing tasks on or near the shoulder of the road.
Workers Ahead Sign
This sign is used to warn you that there are construction or maintenance workers ahead who are working on or near the roadway.
When you see a workers ahead sign, it is important to slow down and be prepared to stop if necessary. Be prepared to follow any additional traffic control devices or signs, such as cones, barrels, or flaggers.
Information Road Signs (Brown and Blue)
This sign Indicates the location of a campground. It helps you find places to camp, whether it’s a public or private campground.
Ranger Station Sign
This sign indicates the location of a ranger station. These facilities are typically run by park rangers or other park staff, and provide a variety of services and information to visitors, such as maps, park rules, safety information, and educational exhibits.
Picnic Area Sign
This sign indicates that there is a designated area nearby that is suitable for picnics. This sign is typically used to let drivers know that a rest area or park has picnic tables, shelters, or grills for picnicking.
RV Dump Station Sign
An RV dump station sign indicates the location of a designated location where you can dispose of your gray and black water tanks. These dump stations are typically located in campgrounds, rest areas, or gas stations.
Next Gas Sign
This sign might be one of the most important to pay attention to. It indicates that there are no more gas stations for the posted distance. Often >50 miles. This sign is usually posted in rural or remote areas where gas stations are scarce.
If you see this sign while driving, it is important to ensure that you have enough fuel to reach the next gas station. Even if you have sufficient fuel, you may want to fill up anyway, just in case you run into any problems on the road before the next gas station.
If you’re towing a camper, don’t forget to factor in your increased fuel use!
Regulatory Signs (White)
Chains Required Sign
This sign is typically posted on highways and roads in areas where snow and ice are common during the winter months. When this sign is displayed, authorities believe driving conditions are too hazardous without additional traction. You will be required to use tire chains, or other traction devices, on your vehicle to safely navigate the roadway.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of road signs that you might encounter on the road. But hopefully my review of road signs will help you remain safe on your adventures. If you want to review additional signs, there are numerous good resources available. The U.S. Department of Transportation has a nice list of signs as does the Arizona Department of Transportation.
If you’re ready to hit the road in Alaska, check out our post on the drive from Anchorage to Denali National Park and the great camping options along the way.