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.
Camping at La Quinta due to campground crowding?
Mitza G. tells us about their experience trying to find a campsite on a Monday night. “Recently had the experience of finding every campground in eastern South Carolina and Georgia full on a Monday night. I had to attempt those campgrounds with after-hours access, since we had to take our rig to the factory for work that we had no idea how long it would take. We were finished and on the road by 5:15 p.m., and after driving through two states wound up staying at a La Quinta Inn on the state border (pet friendly)”
If the world changes, adapt!
Georgia RV lady sent us her comments this week. She wrote, “Yes, there are more RVers this year. The campgrounds are often more crowded. That did not stop us from planning three months ahead of time for a trip cross-country. We had no trouble finding a spot. Often one of the ‘best’ spots in the campground. The world changes and we adapt and make the best of it or give up. We don’t plan on giving up, we love life in our RV.”
Part-timers: RV resorts are open, give them a try!
Reader Diane C. suggests that part-time RVers book at the resort RV parks and leave the state parks to the full-timers. “Yes, we are finding the cheaper state park campgrounds are more crowded, but we are also finding many more resort-style places are opening up almost weekly. Sure they are more expensive but have more amenities. Maybe the part-timers will take those spots and leave the others for the full-time folks. We have reservations out every month for the rest of the year, no problem.”
Disgruntled in West Virginia
We received this email from Wendy B. detailing her current experience in their seasonal site. “We have been seasonal campers at one campground for six years and for 25 years before becoming seasonal we would rent different sites in the campground. This year has been horrible with inconsiderate campers and a greedy owner. We had a large area with two other seasonal sites and two to three weekender sites with plenty of room for each family to play their own field games (football, badminton, etc.) and not get in each other’s way. Now we only have room to sit by the fire and we had to argue to get that because they moved the fire pit right under our awning.
“On top of that, they raised the already crazy rate by $500 and opened a month later. And the most annoying part is the five non-seasonal sites that are now on the other side of us are always booked with families that are all together and let their kids run through our site, dogs that non-stop bark, loud partying or obnoxiously bright color-changing lights.
“You would think with all the money they are taking in they could change stained toilet seats, replace moldy shower curtains or fix the constant sewage smell coming from the bathhouse.”
Campgrounds are “full” but have empty sites
My husband and I (the author) are camp hosts at a regional park and it is pretty much booked all the time – every site on the weekends and most on the weekdays. The electric sites are in high demand. For the last week, many of those most requested sites have been empty. Booked but not canceled probably because there is no refund. I did go to park management and mention that if they changed their refund policy from canceling nine days prior to one or two days, those sites would probably open up.
Barbara O. wrote in about this same issue. She says, “Sometimes my husband and I can find a campsite during the middle of a week but not a weekend. We see empty lots and ask about them and the campground owners say that the lot was reserved but no one shows and they can’t give it to anyone because it’s paid for even though no one shows. People just reserve the spot just in case they decide to camp that week. Not right! Something has to be done about this.”
Lin S. also wrote to us about empty sites. “I find state campgrounds show as booked, but if you find a last-minute cancellation, you see that there are MANY empty campsites in the park once you are inside – especially during the week. The rangers say there is nothing they can do – sites are booked, and no one shows. They are still making money because the people are supposedly still charged. They say they now have ‘bot’ systems booking the sites months ahead. Parks get the money, have fewer sites to clean, and fewer patrons to deal with when no one shows up. Apparently, there are campers who are happy to pay for unused sites they book even a year ahead ‘in case’ they can get off work that week. It’s just a pain in the neck not to be able to get into the popular sites ahead of time.”
Miss camping but not the headaches
John K. has noticed a big difference in the eight years they have full-timed. “I full-timed for about eight years. I noticed that a number of parks are selling seasonal and annual sites too, in some cases, makes things easier for financial reasons. You can’t blame them. They have to survive too! In doing so, most, if not all of the desirable sites are forever unavailable and there are fewer sites for traveling RVers. I sold my motorhome this year and moved into a small house. I miss camping, but not the headaches.”
This park sounds ideal – lots of open sites!
John H. told us about the park he manages with plenty of open sites. Part public service and, yes, part ad – but so helpful. Thanks for sharing, John! “Don’t know if this is allowed, but the park I manage has plenty of open sites, 55 out of 122 to be exact. We have 35 acres of lawn, yes, lawn, five fishing ponds, and one swimming pond 6-9 ft. deep, yes, pond. Our mature sites have grass all around, newer sites are hard-packed limestone gravel. All sites are 30-, 50-, and 20-amp ready, sewer and water. We have a laundromat and showers, we even have open dry tent sites.
“We are one mile from the Bay and three miles from a boat ramp. Oh, and did I mention we have free ice? Come on down, check out Coastal Bay RV Park: 1631 TX-159 Spur, Port Lavaca, TX. We have a Port Lavaca address, but are near Port Alto, Texas. 361-563-4739. By the way, we’re having a mild summer, have not reached 100 degrees yet, and have nice gulf breezes. This is a quiet park with no wild parties.”
Editor’s note: We took a quick glance at the reviews for Coastal Bay RV Park and they pass our review-o-meter with 4.2 stars. We’re not saying it’s the best place, but if what John is describing is accurate, it sounds pretty darn nice! (Had the park not passed our review-o-meter test, we wouldn’t have shared this with you.)
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.