RV sales have skyrocketed and more people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before! In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Maybe we can find some helpful tips and ways to work around the problem.
Here are a few observations from our readers.
Campgrounds were crowded in 1971!
RVtravel.com contributing writer Dave Helgeson emailed our staff a clipping from a 1971 edition of “The Western Wheel” newsletter. Seems like campground crowding was a problem even 50 years ago! The Trailer Coach Association expected that by 1980 manufacturing would double to 1,433,700 units per year. They called for the legislature to build more state parks with camper facilities because “The RV can be built and sold but even now it is difficult to find a space to park them. … Many travelers are looking for overnight parking – well send them to the Mobile Home Parks ….”
RVers often write to us criticizing the new RVers’ lack of etiquette. As one of our readers points out, not all newbies are trashing their campsites, leaving their dogs off-leash or having loud parties. This is a good reminder for us all.
Stephanie W. says: ” As far as ‘newbies’ being inconsiderate and not knowing camping etiquette, we bought our camper last year, so 2021 is our 2nd summer of camping. We ALWAYS make sure we follow EVERY RULE: We clean up after our dog, we separate our recycling from the garbage and dispose of each properly, and we tend to leave a day after everyone else so we don’t clog up the dump stations. We also leave positive reviews wherever we can as long as we haven’t had a horrible experience, and we make sure to buy our firewood from the campground to help fund them, as well as buy souvenirs at the camp store. I think whoever made the statement about new campers needs to realize that not all campers are inconsiderate, rude, or don’t know camping etiquette. It offends campers like us.”
Thank you for being so considerate, Stephanie! You are a model RVer!
Park the rig! Stay at a hotel!
One reader, George M., has a solution for those that just can’t get a site on the weekend. His idea could work particularly well when traveling. “Now that it’s harder to find campgrounds during the weekend, we go and stay at hotels. Park your rig, turn your fridge to propane, and enjoy relaxing at the hotel’s pool.”
No complaints about spending a weekend by the pool, right?
Don’t like the crowds? Claim your spot!
Amy B. has this suggestion for us: “Yes, there definitely has been campground crowding this year. If money isn’t the issue, a good option to ensure you always have a spot is to get a ‘permanent’ or seasonal site at your favorite campground.”
Will the tenters please stick to tent sites?
Karen M. sends out a plea to tenters. If you know a tenter or if tenters camp with you perhaps you can share Karen’s thoughts. “It’s not difficult to find spots if you plan ahead. It would be helpful if tenters would stick to tent-only sites. I cannot put my 33-ft. RV in a tent site but tenters can go anywhere. Please, if you are a tenter, stay in the tent-only sites.”
While this would be helpful, some campgrounds (particularly those in National Forests) don’t always offer tent-only or RV-only sites. Sometimes we must share!
Remember a few months ago when we thought that once the pandemic “ended” all those newbie RVers would sell their RVs? Well, looks like that’s not happening any time soon. Jack P. has a sobering thought: “I expect full campgrounds will continue for some time and people will have to adjust. Many new people have been introduced to RV camping due to the pandemic. Even with those who bought an RV but decide it’s not their thing, the buyers of those used RVs will still be using those RVs to camp. One solution may be to buy or rent a site long-term. However, for those that want to travel and see different places, you just might have to reserve a year in advance and be tied to a firm itinerary.”
Deal with it!
Steve P. has some sage advice for all of us experiencing campground crowding. “Sites are and have been tight for several years, so nothing is different. We do see more full campgrounds but it is how things are and it will continue, so you have to deal with it. Camping in the most popular areas means it will be harder to find spots so we need to work with it.”
Be prepared to dry camp
Paul G. shares his itinerary with us and also offers some helpful advice. “We are on a multi-month wander that will include Escapade in Rock Springs, WY. We are currently in an NFS campground we literally fell into and decided to stay five nights. It is dry camping.
“The tip I would give others is to be prepared to dry camp, don’t demand to stay in the most popular resort area, and do look for out-of-the-way smaller and local places. For holidays, try to get off the grid altogether. When we visited Yellowstone in 2011 we stayed at an NFS park a mile from the West Entrance with no advance planning and had a wonderful three days.”
Now, some questions for you:
• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or are you having no problem finding places to stay?
• If campgrounds continue to be crowded and RVing continues to become more popular, will it affect how or when you RV?
• Do you have any tips or secrets you’d like to share about finding campgrounds that aren’t as crowded?
Please use the form below to answer one or more of these questions, or tell us what you’ve experienced with campground crowding in general.
Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column here.