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.
Newbie discouraged in Florida due to campground crowding
John C. writes to us about being discouraged before their RVing journey has even begun. “My spouse and I are new to all this and I’m discouraged already. We live in Florida and are selling our home to travel and relax. It seems like there are more hassles involved than I’m willing to bargain for. I’m a Lions member but I don’t see any help being a member. Thought about buying land with hook-ups but all county’s have parking restrictions. What to do? Very discouraged.”
On the road for 35 days with no problems, even on the weekend!
Reader Butch A. has been finding sites every day of their trip. “We have been on the road for 35 days. We’ve visited 15 states and camped in 13. Using state parks, COE parks and mom and pops. None of the biggies like KOA. So far we have had no problem finding sites, even on the weekend. We ‘moochdocked’ (Editor’s note: We like this term!) with a relative over Labor Day. Started in Jacksonville, FL. Now heading for largest Czech Egg in Wilson, KS.”
Sold their “large metal box” because of campground crowding
Katherine S. gave it up after finding spots nearly impossible to book. She writes, “We have been campers as long as I can remember and now it’s almost impossible to find a location or date available for us to camp. If and when we do find a place it’s usually the site no one wants. After this had been repeated for the past couple years, we finally sold our RV. I desperately miss the adventures of camping but I will not waste money to have a large metal box sit in my yard.”
Demand pricing in state park
Tom S. fell victim to demand pricing in his recent stay at a state park. “I try to use state parks when I can, mostly to keep from being lined up in a row looking like a car lot. I have experienced a lot of problems getting reservations this year. When you arrive, they have the ‘campground full’ sign out but you have sites all around you that stay empty for several days in a row.
“I have a bigger problem with demand pricing. Just stayed for three days (midweek, not a holiday or weekend, not at the beach) in a state park and the rate was different for each night. The average charge was $64 per night. Commercial campgrounds in the area were $45 to $65. I won’t name the state (but it is between South Carolina and Alabama). Felt totally ripped off for a basic site with electric and water, no sewer. I checked some other state parks in the state but they weren’t that bad. I have no problem with a business making a fair profit, just don’t make it all on me! For a state park to use demand pricing like this is just price gouging. That’s what ‘demand pricing’ is, what the market will bear. Well, I’m going to be more diligent on selecting what ‘market’ I shop in.”
Having an RV the size of a house is NOT camping
Jenifer M. is upset and writes to us about big RVs, rude campers and litter. She says, “State campgrounds used to be about 50 percent of tenters and the rest smaller RVs and very few large RVs. Now it is almost all RVs and about 50 percent of them are the size of a small home. There is something wrong with going camping when you have everything you have at home. Unless you are staying in one place long term you are just adding to our environmental problems. How can anyone consider themselves as campers when they are practically carrying a small hotel room behind a super-sized truck that’s getting 10 miles per gallon?
“Meanwhile people need to learn not to leave trash in the park, especially toilet paper. If you need to do something in the wild bring a plastic bag for the used toilet paper and take it out with you. If you or your dog pops you need to pick it up and take it to proper containers, and if there aren’t containers then take it home with you. Do not throw it on the ground because the trash is full. I was in Yellowstone last week and I was taking a picture behind this tree. Well, behind the tree there were toilet paper and human feces all over the place. There were masks in the parking lot. It was really windy and it was so sad to see people paper masks littering this wonderful park. This type of behavior is rude, sick, narcissistic and few other choice words that would get me kicked off if I put them down. If you take it in, please take it out. The only things you should take out of places of nature are happy and wonderful memories.”
“Love is being tested” due to campground crowding
Nancy S. says that her love of camping is being tested. ”Yes, it is very hard to find a campground. My daughter is thinking of selling her RV as well. I can tell you this has been the worst year and the sites you book are not user friendly at all for state parks. It was much better before. We love to camp but that love is being tested…”
Full payment in advance – Is it a trend?
John M. had two private RV parks ask for full payment in advance. “So far this year, two RV parks have asked for payment in full in order to make reservations. The Golden Shores RV park in Long Beach, CA, and Pismo Beach RV park in CA. This is unnecessary, as sites such as Airbnb take an initial deposit, then as one approaches the cancellation triggers the deposit increases. Full payment made several months in advance is difficult.”
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.