Thursday, November 30, 2023


Campground Crowding: I never set out to camp. I set out to travel.

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.

Dinner and a show!

It’s dinner and a show! Lorelei J. wrote in with a little humor: “Campgrounds in Oregon and Washington, especially along the coast, are very difficult to get into. Unfortunately, some national forests are shoving in more spaces so there is no privacy whatsoever.

“I will continue to try to camp and only have a little teardrop trailer. Bad manners are making it difficult too. People who don’t have gargantuan trailers need a bit of privacy.

“It is hilarious watching the behemoths try to back in. No, I don’t want to share tips or secrets, things are bad enough already.” Editor’s note: I have to admit, watching RVs backing up does provide some evening entertainment.


Lyle L. is considering downsizing. “Campgrounds WILL continue to be crowded (because of all the rigs being sold), so as full-timers we are considering downsizing. Currently, we have a 38′ motorhome towing, and we are considering a smaller rig in the 25′-30′ range. Having a smaller rig will enable us to boondock more easily and to fit into shorter campground sites.”

Is getting a small (or smaller) rig for these same reasons something you’re considering?
Please leave a feedback on thisx

Camping is overrated

Jo B. got very little money back from their reservations after her husband had cancer. “Starting four months ahead to book campsites is a huge problem. Most required half to all of the total cost up front. When my husband came down with cancer, we canceled at least two months in advance. We got very little of the money back. Yes, I’m considering selling our class B. To me, it’s cheaper to drive and stay in an Airbnb. Camping for me is overrated!” 

Too big to be called “campers”

The comments continue to roll in about Jenifer J’s email about big RVs not being “campers.” Jennifer asks, “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?”

Ardis A. replied to that comment: “As for rigs being too big to call campers: You are exactly right. But some of us don’t consider ourselves campers. I have a 42’ diesel pusher. We consider it an apartment on wheels, with all our personal stuff onboard. We rarely even set up a folding chair outside. What we enjoy is traveling, sightseeing, college football trips, and grandchildren visiting in it. We literally live in the woods at home. We don’t have to on the road.”

Richard W. responded too. He wrote, “Trash in parks – Human beings are a terrible animal. We’ve raised several generations that think only of themselves and have been shamelessly catered to.

“Availability – We’ve been full-time for 16 years. We’ve always had problems getting spots around major attractions. We seldom go there. We opt for lesser venues. Fewer people, less commercialization($), more privacy/solitude.

“Stop obsessing over what you can’t get. Take an opportunity you didn’t expect to find the unexpected.”

Are we just getting our readers “spun up”?

L R has had no problems getting a site. “We have had no problem getting into state and county parks during the last two years. We plan ahead and don’t do spur-of-the-moment trips. Last week we stayed at a park that had about 25 percent of the spaces vacant. A tempest in a teacup. The media, including this site, love to get people spun up and trigger comments from readers.

“The comment ‘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?’ Thank God others don’t get to choose our RVs or breakfast cereal for us as they think they know best. There are many kinds of people in this world. Some would see an RV and say, ‘I like that, someday I’ll own one.’ Others, seeing the same RV would say, ‘They shouldn’t have that.'”

I don’t camp, I travel

Sue N. never set out to camp, she wants to travel. “We just started full-time RVing two months ago after three years of planning. We reserve campgrounds at least three months ahead and are not having troubles. But we travel in unpopular places and in the wide west so far. We will turn east and book those sites more months in advance.

“About large RVs and it’s not camping. I agree it’s not really camping but I never set out to ‘camp.’ I set out to travel, stay in good weather, and bring my whole life (significantly downsized) with me. My ‘apartment on wheels’ enables this. So maybe true campers will be helped by thinking of large RV travelers as having a different goal yet using some of the same spaces.”

We like this way of thinking, Sue! Great point.

Enjoying a vacation home on wheels

Sue B. enjoys their travels and looks for the roads less traveled. “I understand the flavor of a campground changes when people stay in their RVs rather than live more outdoors by cooking outside, sitting around the campfire, visiting with neighbors when you have tight quarters in a small RV or tent.

“But being over 70, and traveling long distances in the fall for 2 months, we enjoy our ‘vacation home on wheels’ – our 33′ fifth wheel. We travel the roads and places less traveled looking for spots near a paved bicycle trail through the country, shade trees, water, and 30-amp + water hookup if we can get it. We’re willing to camp in county fairgrounds, city parks or boondock in church parking lots, shopping centers, etc., if we have to. Our destination and time is flexible.”

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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Ace (@guest_149130)
2 years ago

My wife and I use our travel trailer as a “home on wheels” since we like to travel but prefer to avoid hotels. People have different definitions, limitations and experiences of camping. I was an infantryman in Vietnam and am done with sleeping on the ground with only a poncho to lay on. I have done my share of backpacking in the mountains, tent camping, etc. I don’t need anyone telling me what true “camping” is supposed to be because I have done it all quite a lot. I enjoy the outdoors but I also enjoy the comforts of our trailer.

Sue (@guest_149070)
2 years ago

We upsized several months ago from a 19 foot travel trailer to a 32 foot fifth wheel. While I like the inside space, I’m not sure we made the right decision. So much harder squeezing into campgrounds

Stanley Sokolow (@guest_148817)
2 years ago
Is getting a small (or smaller) rig for these same reasons something you're considering?" Read more »

After studying the RV length restrictions in many different types of campgrounds around the USA, I decided to buy a 24′ Class C motorhome. I’m glad I did.

Gary Smith (@guest_148816)
2 years ago
Is getting a small (or smaller) rig for these same reasons something you're considering?" Read more »

Yes, that’s why we replaced our 30’ Class A with a 24’ Class C four years ago. It’s much easier and more nimble to drive plus it gets almost twice the fuel mileage. It’s also much easier to keep warm or cool than the previous one.

Irv (@guest_148790)
2 years ago

We’re also travelers, not campers.

I don’t mind campers as long as they don’t have a SMOKEY campfire.

Jennifer Willner (@guest_148784)
2 years ago
Is getting a small (or smaller) rig for these same reasons something you're considering?" Read more »

It’s definitely why we chose smaller to begin with.

Thomas D (@guest_148778)
2 years ago

Behemoths! Love that word. I watch one day when a couple first asked if I could move my car so they could back in. No problem. Then we sat back and watched while they ATTEMPTED to back in. Eventually loud words were being said followed by nasty words followed by them finally pulling away and out the park. Shorty a smaller size fifth wheel came and backed right in. One shot.

Laurie (@guest_148773)
2 years ago
Is getting a small (or smaller) rig for these same reasons something you're considering?" Read more »

We downsized from a 42 ft 5th wheel to a back off our truck Camper. It is much easier to go anywhere and boondocks, but as a person of age, I wouldn’t want to spend long periods of time in it.

Cecilia (@guest_148762)
2 years ago

The Jo B. story about not getting her money back even though she cancelled two months in advance really ticked me off. If the campgrounds are so full, they would not be out any money because another RVer will come along and take her space. So they are taking her money plus the replacement camper’s money for the same space! That’s greed and it’s not right. This is what scares me about booking campsites 4-6 months in advance. Things happen on the road and if you can’t get to your next destination, you’ve lost all your money.

Cathi (@guest_149220)
2 years ago
Reply to  Cecilia

During our 5 years of full time travel I have had to cancel reservations several times. In general most places may keep $10-$25 but the rest is returned to my credit card. There were a couple that would only issue a rain check that I had to use within a couple of years. This rain check was transferable. One place made sure that I knew that there was no refund on the deposit when I booked our stay. Some of these cancellations were made with short notice when there was a death in the family. I don’t think I ever lost my entire deposit, but sometimes the deposit was the least of my worries. I always use the same credit card to make my reservations and I think if there was unfair treatment, I would take it up with my CC company.

Lovey (@guest_149863)
2 years ago
Reply to  Cecilia

Agree 100%. It’s not right to keep so much of required amount when you cancel. I am shocked by how much these cg’s are asking for deposits.

Rock & Tina (@guest_148724)
2 years ago

Why single out behemoths? I am routinely entertained by people trying to back in every possible size RV. I’ve seen plenty of people with “behemoths” skillfully back into tight sport and I’ve seen plenty of people with small trailers who couldn’t back into a large site without a dozen tries. Practice makes perfect and it’s easy to spot those who do and those that don’t.

Bob P (@guest_148787)
2 years ago
Reply to  Rock & Tina

Actually it’s easier to back a behemoth than it is a smaller trailer, ask any truck driver. I’ve put 53’ semitrailers into spots I’d have backing a 4X8 utility trailer simply because the little trailer responds so much quicker to the slightest movement of the steering wheel plus the axles are much closer to the tow vehicle reducing the turn radius.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_148714)
2 years ago

We have a 30′ travel trailer. It took me a LONG time to finally call this “camping”, having come from true tent camping for all of my previous life. My friends called it camping but I was hanging on to RV’ing. Finally, I relented and fell in with the “camping” crowd. Now we’re camping.

Richard Davidson (@guest_148690)
2 years ago
Is getting a small (or smaller) rig for these same reasons something you're considering?" Read more »

Already Have downsized

Leonard D Rempel (@guest_148682)
2 years ago

Due to the travel restrictions gong into the U.S. from Canada, I cancelled our November reservations. First of all, some reservations needed little to no money up front. Cancelling was either 100% money back or about 10%. Just not a big deal.
FYI: Campground reservations are tricky as we booked six months out, but very doable. It is what it is. This will NOT stop me from RV’ing in my 35′ 5th wheel.
Can’t wait to spend the winter somewhere warm!

tom (@guest_148676)
2 years ago

Being under 30′, in a Class B really helps. Able to stay in spots the Big Boys cannot use. Many non-glamor RV parks exist with short sites.

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