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.
Pulling a site from thin air
This comment comes from a Julie W., a camp host on the Oregon coast. Julie writes, “We host at a county campground on the Oregon coast. I am finding that we have many more campers this year and people expect us to be able to pull a space out of thin air to accommodate them. We try our hardest but there are more campers than spaces. I wish more people would go easy on the camp host.”
No-shows are a problem in Canada, too. Leonard R. explains, “Being Canadian, I am hoping that the border is open for us to leave for the Southern U.S. on November 1st for a six-month trip. I have already booked out 95 percent of my campgrounds and should be fully booked by the end of August. I can’t imagine ‘winging it’ with a 35′ 5th wheel.
“We think it is abhorrent and totally selfish behaviour to book multiple campgrounds for the same date. I like the idea that if you are a no-show-no-call after one day your campsite is opened up and there is ZERO refund.
“This goes for campgrounds, State and Provincial parks on both sides of the border. It is a problem here as well. Stay safe.”
Wow! A whole week in the Smokies!
Robert P. found booking middle of the week he was able to score a week in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “If you’re retired, travel during the week. We had no problem booking a week in the Smokies mid-week, and this is still the busy season.” Robert, did you get the weekend, too?
Tying up our money
Candelario M. wrote us about a common issue RVers have when having to book out months, even a year in advance. “Last year I attempted to reserve a one-week stay each at four different campgrounds. One week per month. I did this six months in advance. Recreation.gov will withdraw funds from your credit card for the entire reservation period. That is a lot of money to tie up for six months. Decided to boondock instead.”
Staying at the quarry due to campground crowding
Jim T. laments the loss of camping as it was and has decided to just stay on their own property and welcome their friends. “Camping is nothing like it used to be a couple years ago. It’s crowded, and rude new campers don’t have a clue how camping’s supposed to be. Six months’ reservations sucks. We have a 7-acre stone quarry on our property that we and friends use with electric and water. No one wants to deal with the public anymore, miss the old days of camping.”
Secret to a wonderful and super-fun vacation
Jamie S. just returned from a 30-day RV trip and has this advice to deal with campground crowding: “We just returned from a 30-day RV trip to and through 11 states. I am a planner and what I like doing best is planning vacations. I had worked on this adventure for months. We had campsites booked and paid for in advance almost everywhere we went. I also carried multiple campground guides and maps and downloaded several apps to help us along the way. After checking out National Park campgrounds and finding them booked solid, we just avoided them. The National Parks we visited were slammed and we were actually happy that we hadn’t found a site available.
“Instead we stayed at campgrounds that were sometimes almost vacant. We relied heavily on Corps of Engineer campgrounds, which were always terrific and usually had hookups. (Editor’s Note: This book is a wonderful guide to Corps of Engineers campgrounds around the country.) One we stayed at in Missouri had full hookups and cost us just $12 a night with my interagency senior pass.
“Our secret to a wonderful and super-fun vacation is to avoid the attractions that everyone else wants to see. Instead of sitting in a long line of vehicles winding up the mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park we stayed at a wonderful campground in Villa Grove, CO, and drove all over the area in our 4×4 truck. Many places we went were probably known only to locals and tourists like us who happened upon them. Our style of travel is certainly not the way many other people like to vacation, but it sure works for us.”
If the campground is fully booked online, there are other options! Eric R. told us about his tip when searching for a site. “When making reservations via a campgrounds website, if a desired spot or time frame is not available, I will call the campground and either ask if they have a waitlist for my desired spot or time frame, or if they know of any parks in the area that might have availability. Also, when speaking with someone on the phone, I am super nice and patient. Who knows – my conversation might be a bright spot in their day.”
Some secrets are remaining a secret
Secret secrets are no fun! Fred F. wrote us that he does have a few secrets but we may never know them! “I have all sorts of ‘secrets’ to get available campsites. But why would a sane person list them here?” Fred are you sure you don’t want to share just one? C’mon… Not even a hint?
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.
Thanks Robert for the tip on camping during the week. I will de-materialize every weekend so I don’t need space for those nights. Scotty, beam me somewhere into space!
My sympathies to Julie who is trying to help guests find a space. And a big thank you to her, and to all the other hosts and rangers, and to managers who still staff gatehouses and provide actual help to arriving campers. You’ll never know how many trips you made successful by placing people in the best site you could or helping them with a map or reservation snags. I just spent some time in unattended ‘recreation areas’, most unpleasant when there is no real host. Here’s a toast to the hosts!
A friend I was in the Air Force with, his son in law just bought a RV park in Arkansas on the Illinois river. He been doing improvements. If your around there, try it out.
yes as I said in the original comment we arrived on Thursday and left the following Thursday morning, seven days and nites. Had we tried to get in on the weekend I doubt if we would have gotten in.
You were luckier than we have been. We can find Sun-Thursday nights with no problem. But the only one we could find that included a weekend required us moving on both Friday and Saturday nights. Easier to find a Cracker Barrel or Walmart and at least sightsee during the day.