Thursday, November 30, 2023


Campground Crowding: A well-written grim look at the future, and an explanation: Why is it so bad?

RV sales have skyrocketed and more people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is campground crowding like never before! In this weekly column, 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.

All these crowds really take a toll on enthusiasm!

Reader Dennis D. wrote in about campgrounds being full. He writes, “The ‘campground full’ encounter is becoming more frequent. Adding to this is the demand for longer-term stays. This discouraging experience does take a toll on the enthusiasm for camping. If I can’t find a place to stay, what do I do with this equipment? To be sure, we are not that fussy and have stayed at alternate sites and been perfectly happy, but there seems to be fewer and fewer of even second and third choices. We do try them all: commercial parks; state, county, and city camps; trailer parks; and military parks. The luck has been with us but this year I see the difficulty finding sites becoming much more difficult. Our camping chapter is more frequently booking individual sites for the weekend rather than wagon-master securing one reservation.”

Giving up due to crowding and other issues

It was sad to read that Karen M. is giving up camping for a number of reasons – reasons that we are all aware of. She says, “I have essentially given up camping. Crowding, rude behavior, noise and trash have taken the joy away. The crowd new to camping today has a totally new vision of what it is. They require large motel-type rigs, every convenience from home and the demand to use these items when and wherever they want. Outside entertainment centers, large group parties, multiple motor vehicles, invasion of other’s space.

“Being outside in the woods, beach or lake quietly enjoying what is there seems to be unimportant. This is reflected in how the site looks when they leave. I am assuming this is what the new users want. It does not appeal to me or a lot of people, but it seems to be the future. Can I find a site for a night? Sure, almost always. But gone are the days you can plan a vacation at a park without booking nearly a year before. It’s just a new game where we the people are ruining it for us all, and loudly complaining about it.”

Not looking for a resort!

Tom D. moved from tent camping to a trailer and is not looking for an RV resort. “We’re former tent campers now in a 25’ trailer. We’re in our mid-70s so we’re not looking for a resort but a small, quiet spot to use as a base camp for exploring. We do not have a TV – we camp. Instead, we play games, have a campfire, explore, and talk.

“We try to plan a few months in advance but sometimes it’s a few days. Never had a problem finding a spot. Sometimes crowded but mostly friendly campers. We love WY, MT, SD, UT, CO, and AZ. Usually out for six weeks, staying one week per camp.”

The magic formula!

Herb and Kathy B. have a system that gets them a site without fail, even with all of the campground crowding. Shhh! Don’t share their secrets! “We are full-time RVers, have been for five years and we are not finding problems in getting a spot for the night. We stay at about 20 percent commercial RV parks (so we can do laundry, dump, and take on water) and 50 percent in state parks, COE parks, city parks, fairgrounds. The last 30 percent we utilize Elks Lodges, Harvest Hosts, and Boondockers Welcome, along with the occasional Cracker Barrel, Cabela’s, Sam’s Club, Casino, or anywhere else we can find a large parking lot mostly empty where we clearly won’t be in anybody’s way.”

A grim picture ahead…

Is the future of RVing grim? Tony D., a full-time RVer and workamper, thinks so. Tony writes, “As a full-timer and workamper, I’m seeing more RVs of all types and sizes on the roads – many on the side of the roads – and in the parks. A very large factor in the recent explosion in RV ownership has come from full-timer nomads, young and old, retired and remote workers.

“Unfortunately, too many RVs of all types and price ranges are so poorly put together they not only bleed out the finances of many new owners, they present a safety hazard to owners and others both in the parks and on the highways. The direct result of an industry with no real standards and arguably under-regulated.

“Then, there has been a huge increase in private parks being acquired by hedge funds or absorbed into larger institutionally backed conglomerates. State parks are being ‘privatized’ out to management companies (often owned or headed by cronies of state-level politicians).

“Pricing models get more and more ‘exotic’ with many designed so as to mislead campers as to what the park’s price really is until too late. Again, no standards and under-supervised.

“Finally, fuel prices are moving through the roof to the extent that one has to wonder if the ‘oil industry/cartels’ is really trying to push their customers into non-petroleum-consuming vehicles.

“I suspect that, within the next couple of years, we will see a large sell-off of RVs purchased in 2020 ~ 2022 combined with an inverted or negative ‘hockey stick’ in the sales performance turned in by larger manufacturers.

“Seeing a bit of that now in the towable segment. The corporate-owned parks will fade away as demand disappears, leaving a grumpy class of investors in their wake. In short, what we have now is a classic ‘bubble’ where, once again, the collapse of an industry will have been self-inflicted, cheered on by Wall Street. As for the consumers, well, in the end, RVing can be a great life … until it isn’t.”

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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column here

Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.



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Sue (@guest_147801)
2 years ago

We were already seeing enough of what Tony D. describes in 2017 to give up full-time RVing and buy another house. Sold the coach in 2018 and don’t regret the decision. Just wasn’t fun any more, after enjoying the extended and full-time travel for 13 years. Still reading RV Travel, however, so maybe if there’s another big recession someday we’ll get another little house on wheels when fewer people are traveling . . .

UPRIG (@guest_147691)
2 years ago

Media driven histrionics.

Crowman (@guest_147639)
2 years ago

The oil companies pushing us into EV? We were energy independent 2 years ago what could have happened that changed that I wonder? Could it be pipelines, oil leases canceled could have played in this shortage? I don’t want to play into the Us vs Them but the people voted for this leadership knowing full well that they said they were going to do this. Just going to have to live with your decisions.

Jeff Craig (@guest_147811)
2 years ago
Reply to  Crowman

Umm, gladly! Climate change caused by our own waste, proto-fascists who tried to stop the lawful transition of power and blowing up the National Debt to record levels are not what we need.

Tom Horn (@guest_148853)
2 years ago
Reply to  Crowman

The Green Elite would not have been able to push there agenda so quickly if there was plenty of fossil fuels for the US and the world. The current ellite is doing everything they can to make sure that the population will not have any choice but to dump there way of life for what they say is the only way to live. What is happening now is nothing compaired to what is coming at us in the future. Creating a crisis if there game.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tom Horn
Ron Sifford (@guest_147637)
2 years ago

Need to continue to raise the fees until manageable. Anything under $50 with unlimited water and electricity is a steal.

G13 (@guest_147628)
2 years ago

Heard and witnessed loud parties at CG’s, kids running around being kids and RV’ers just conversing with one another, enjoying it. As the sun sets, festivities are regulated by campfires, where permitted, and people socializing, enjoying one’s company. Then it’s lights out for most and quite time is observed. RV’ers also are mindful of garbage in, garbage out when leaving, haven’t witnessed anything to the contrary.

Society has changed, our nation as well, “the good ole days are memories”, long past. You can whine and complain all you want. You can hang it up, quit, sell, whatever the reason. Will it matter, no. Then what, just stay at home or change course, book hotels, motels, airline flights, cruises, things you despised trying to book CG’s. Campground overcrowding is in the eye of the beholder, some don’t mind noise, kids, joy and happiness. It’s the old adage, “mind over matter”, I don’t mind and it doesn’t matter. Agree or disagree, it’s okay. Stay safe everyone!

Tommy Molnar (@guest_147634)
2 years ago
Reply to  G13

I think you have the right attitude, G13. I haven’t noticed any of what everyone seems to be complaining about. Am I just lucky? I’m growing weary of all this doom and gloom.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tommy Molnar
Joe . (@guest_147946)
2 years ago
Reply to  G13

Joy is one thing. Pulling out the big screen TV (outside) and the big sized Bluetooth speakers and lighting up the campsite with bright blue lights so ONLY people who share your desire for tailgating can also enjoy their stay is another.

It has changed demonstrably from a time when people would have fun but didn’t tread on their neighbors (presumably out of respect) to now.

Uncle Swags (@guest_150445)
2 years ago
Reply to  G13

Yup. Life is what you make it. Spent the last 4 weeks in relatively empty state parks – Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia.

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