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:
We always have a mix of comments and emails from our readers. Some people are totally frustrated trying to find campsites, particularly in state and county parks. Others are easily finding a place, some finding plenty of sites open. Several others are sharing with us the positive, bright side of being happy campers.
Consider it a blessing
Robin T. sent us this upbeat, hopeful comment: “Public parks really are hard to get into these days. I am hopeful ‘this too shall pass’ as the sting of the pandemic and stay-at-home wears away. Meantime, don’t forget to try county and even city parks. Check early and as often as you can. Be flexible on the location and length of stay. Try not to get frustrated when you can’t get a spot, and just consider it a blessing when you get one. Hope that things will be better after the summer of freedom passes.”
John O. has a positive outlook and some tips on how to be a “Happy Camper.” He writes, “Just like everything else, your attitude and outlook on life will decide how bad or how good things really are or at least how they seem to be. Be FLEXIBLE in your planning. We hit full-time ‘RVane’ (that’s RVing with a southern accent) last year as the Pandemic hit in April 2020. Now 2021 traffic is definitely busier, but we still have not encountered the ‘mind-blowing overcrowding’ talked about. We plan our itinerary about 3-4 months in advance with 3-4 day weekend reservations and then ‘wing it’ during the week normally with first-come-first-serve campsites.
“Happy Campers happen when outcomes meet or exceed expectations. We don’t stay where crowds are expected (KOAs) or RV parks that have full-time residents. We ‘boondock’ about 30 percent of the time and stay away from state parks (crowded with local crowds) during the summer months. We’ve tweaked our expectations some and constantly change and modified our planning methods but 99 percent of the time we love our RVane life. A large percentage of the time… our camping experience has exceeded our expectations…. What about yours?”
Reserved less than a month out
Kevin C. shares his experience with us when booking less than a month out and finding spots without much trouble.
“We left Western WA in mid-April for the National Parks in Utah and Western Colorado. We started planning less than a month out and we didn’t plan on camping in the parks, just nearby. We’ve found campgrounds and got reservations without much trouble. Our average cost per night was less than $35. We did camp in Teton NP at Gross Ventre campground. Made those reservations online. There were still open spots when we camped there. Currently we are traveling east through Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. Maybe not the hot spots for summer, but we haven’t had to camp at Wallyworld yet. We haven’t stayed at resorts but campgrounds near places we were visiting.”
Booked to the gills with family reunions!
Lisa W. brought up a point that my husband and I have noticed in the regional park we host at: There is no limit to the number of guests as long as they don’t park on the grass.
“Not only are state and national campgrounds booked to the gills, but they are also allowing 10-15 people per site, making the stay unpleasant for those of us not having a family reunion; especially when it is multiple sites and no longer the exception. I won’t be booking as many state parks next year, avoiding parks that are easy targets for weekend warriors, those that are an easy drive from a major metro area.”
Staying home is more relaxing
Robert G. says he gets more privacy and a relaxing time at home. He writes, “Tent, trailer and 5th wheel campers for 40 years. Crowded parks, lack of available sites, and little space between units have discouraged us from continuing to camp – only three times in the last two summers. We can get more privacy in a more relaxed environment by staying home.”
Is it hogging or needing a place to live?
Jesse S has noticed a big difference in getting sites and wonders if the housing market is contributing to the issues.
“For years prior to Covid and the hot housing market, we had no problems EVER getting a spot wherever we wanted. Now? Good luck, at least on the Washington Peninsula. I’m beginning to think that those priced out of homes bought cheap RVs and are simply rotating through the campgrounds, hogging all the campsites.”
Get outta here!
This RVer, Christina H., had a comment about campground crowding in Florida. She is welcoming people… to move out!
“I have camped for approximately five months every summer for 10 years. Some with a long-term destination and other times just traveling. Mention is always made about Florida being so crowded – I live in Florida, but want to escape the heat so off I go. Unfortunately everywhere is now becoming as crowded as Florida is, with an influx of so many people that Florida is no longer a good place to live. If that translates to everywhere as it relates to camping, people will stop camping and the industry will take a nosedive. I, for one, would welcome that just as I would welcome people moving back out of Florida.”
We received this anonymous email from a reader about this Campground Crowding column telling us to stop! We wanted to share this reader’s perspective.
Anonymous had this to say, “Can we have one, single newsletter where y’all do NOT talk about campground crowding? We get it, it’s an issue. However, I can tell you that it’s a big turn off to hear about it each… and… every… week. I know you certainly pick up new subscribers that need to know about the issue. But I can tell you that it’s not as bad as you report. If you are not a planner, then sure, it’ll be far more prevalent. But like with all things in life, planning is a must. You can’t show up to a dentist’s office and say ‘fix my cavity’ – that’s not going to work.
“We have been to plenty of campgrounds where we have space on both sides of our rig, for several days or more. We tend to stay places a month at a time, too! Now, if an RVer is trying to cram into a state or national park, well, perhaps the articles need to focus on supporting the local campground businesses. Not everyone needs a swimming pool with a water slide or a putt-putt course, either. There are plenty of low-cost campgrounds that have water, sewer and 50-amp service. Just my two cents.”
Note from the editor: Anonymous, trust us, we’re sick of talking about campground crowding too! And, more importantly, we’re sick of dealing with crowded campgrounds. Camping and RVing have certainly lost that magic spark of “the good ol’ days.”
This Campground Crowding column continues to be one of our most popular columns week after week. It’s a big concern for a lot of you RVers. If you roll your eyes at it each week, just keep on scrolling. There’s always a joke or a funny meme at the bottom of each newsletter that should, hopefully, send you off with a smile.
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.
When traveling to our workamping spots, we usually take our time and stop along the way. I never make reservations ahead and have found places along the way. When on the road I start looking 200 miles out from stop for evening. Once in awhile I have to call more than one place but mostly find what I need for the night. I am not looking for a resort to stay the night so that helps. I have found parks I would like to visit again.
I have to say, I agree with anonymous, I’ve been thinking the same thing. I’ve actually noticed less campground crowding articles the past week or two, so I appreciate that (or it could be that now I’m looking and counting and there are less than I perceived.) We’re in the northeast and haven’t ventured west or south in quite some time. But in our experience regionally it is about the same as previous years. Even surprisingly empty in the CG we were at in upstate NY around the 4th of July, but we wondered if that was because of the Canadian border still being closed.
Unlike “anonymous” in your 7/25/2021 “Crowded Campgrounds” segment I and others I know look forward to reading it. I feel there is great value in the suggestions people have and treat it as a learning experience. Other people’s experience allows me to avoid the “on the job training” required to obtain this information. It can be a time saver and reduce the hassle factor. Sure there is repetition in some of the comments but to me, that verifies and reinforces that these suggestions work. Your online publication is like every other publication (print or on-line), it has to be a one size fits all. That means there has to be something for everybody and not segments are for everyone. As you can see, my vote is to keep the segment.
It’s a lot easier when you’re driving a Class B. We frequently don’t make reservations when we travel and use RV Trip Wizard for planning our stops. And, then if we want to book a stop we’ll just call enroute. Our rig is so small, many times a park can find a place for us. If you are driving a large Class A and towing something it’s going to be a lot more challenging. This is a case where being the smallest RV on the road is a distinct advantage.
We’ve had to make trips to Houston from Reno every three months. On our first trip down we made reservations for the five nights because we “had to be sure”. We took I-40. On the way home we just winged it and took I-10. No reservations. We never had a problem getting a spot just driving in. But, these are not resorts. Just a place to spend the night plugged in. Train tracks close by so it’s $20/night. We love trains. Another place, $25/night. If it wasn’t 100 degrees out we’d boondock. I still think the crowding issue is worse ‘back east’.