Monday, September 25, 2023


Campground Crowding: Reader says “Sites like this one” are ruining it! – But we’re only trying to help…

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.

Seeing so much trash and litter is depressing

Bill H. reports on what a lot of folks are commenting on – trash. “We mostly boondock on BLM & NFS land, often with a small group of rockhounds. Even in our remote areas we find trash and litter increasing. We used to pick up the few pieces and add them to our own trash, but now we bring bags to haul out what we can. Glass, tires, mattresses, everything. It’s becoming a dumping ground. It’s depressing.”

Thank you, Bill, for helping us take care of our planet. We encourage all of you to be like Bill and bring extra garbage bags out (when you can and if you’re able) to pick up the litter you see.

Attitude is everything – be polite!

Sometimes it’s the simple things… Misty D. reminds us of that. “My husband and I travel for work so, we take our RV a lot. Most of the time we’re in one place for five to eight months so we have a luxury fifth wheel. Planning well ahead of time is the best way to go about it. We always find a spot. Also, attitude is EVERYTHING. If you’re polite, most likely the park staff will be too.”

All is good on this long road trip

Beverly S. told us about their long RV trip and the lack of problems they have had. “We are currently about 4,000 miles into a 6,000+ mile RV trip. I made reservations at 26 RV parks in January and early February with no problems. Getting reservations in West Yellowstone, Moab and Ouray was not an issue. And, even though we were in Yellowstone in late August, we never waited more than a few minutes at the gate since we went in around 8 a.m. Almost all of the parks, including several KOAs, had spaces empty during our stays there. I think the key is planning ahead and being patient. I didn’t get in the first park I called for every city but found other RV parks nearby. Oh, and during this trip, we have had no issues with other campers in any of the parks. People just seem generally very happy to be out in whatever type of ‘camper’ they’ve chosen to travel with. We’ll definitely be out again next year!”

Overpaying is frustrating!

This isn’t necessarily about campground crowding, but Kathryn A. brings up a valid frustration. She writes, “I have an 8-foot mini camper that just needs to be plugged into a regular plug to use a power strip inside. I can’t tell you how it feels to have to pay the same full price as the big RVs using sewer, water, and way more electricity in one night than I would use in a week.”

Even rustic sites are hard to reserve

Karen A. finds that making reservations for groups is a lot harder. “I call as soon as the window for reserving sites starts only to find most sites reserved, so if trying to plan multiple (four or five) sites for family and friends they are not available. Single sites or two sites can maybe be found but not more. We use rustic sites, no power/water/sewer, and still find it hard to reserve enough sites.

“There are more and more people that do not respect campground rules and feel entitled and are rude. Camping for over 50 years and sad to say it’s gone downhill.”

Don’t miss yesterday’s article: Millions of acres of public lands could be used as campgrounds. The federal government won’t take initiative, but you can. Click here.

Full payment in advance

Ellen L. writes us about those who book “just in case.” She says, “Full payment in advance: this is happening because people have a fear of not getting a site so they panic and book several different places ‘just in case.’ With a small deposit, they have no problem just being a no-show. This is a very popular practice in State parks that allow booking a year or six months in advance. They book the week before in order to be first for the next.

“I’m in many camping groups that host events that encourage members on all of the above selfish habits. But anyway… you can’t blame parks for demanding full payment at reservation when these practices are losing them money.”

Require confirmation

Bonnie W. has a great suggestion for ending the reserved-but-empty campsites. She writes, “I think one way to cut down on reserved but unoccupied spaces would be to require confirmation. The park sends out an email two days prior to the arrival date with a link to confirm arrival. If the camper doesn’t confirm, the site is released with no refund.”

[wpdiscuz-feedback id=”88c9im1qlz” question=”Please leave a feedback on this” opened=”0″]We think this is a good idea. Do you? [/wpdiscuz-feedback]

Filled to capacity in Ontario

Joyce G. writes us about the campground crowding in Canada too. “Northern Ontario has had full campgrounds all summer. It is been pretty much impossible to book campsites prior to Labour Day. Ontario provincial campgrounds have been mostly 100 percent booked. Many campgrounds seem to have gone to mostly seasonal sites leaving very few available sites for non-seasonal campers. On a road trip in August, we saw many campers pulled just off the road camping overnight due to the unavailability of campsites. Even day parks have been filled to capacity.

Is this happening in other parts of the world too? We wonder…

Cost of camping in the good ol’ days

Bob S. remembers the cost of camping in the good ol’ days. “I am 66 years of age. Grew up in a camping family with four kids and a dog. My first job was at 14 at a resort on Lake Barkley, which my family purchased in 1975. Tents, popups, and extremely small RVs (15′) started at $3.50 for four with water and electric. Sewer was just an additional 50 cents! 25 years served and loved it all! So much different then. Bless and be safe.”

Sites like this ruin it!

Oh, no! Is it our fault? A reader who goes by Sdw blames sites like ours,, for all the campground crowding! “We wouldn’t have campground crowding if it weren’t for sites like this one, and all the bloggers and YouTubers telling everybody how great RVing is without telling them about any of the negatives. And we wouldn’t have campground crowding if people weren’t trying to make money off RVers by putting apps out there that tells where every campground is and everything about it. But that’s ok, in a few years RVing won’t be fun anymore because sites like this one will have ruined it.

*Editor’s note to Sdw: We think you may have missed the point of what we’re trying to do here… 

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.


  1. Yeah, when you are sitting in your sticks and bricks it’s pretty easy to confirm Dr appointments, oil changes, maintenance, and the like with great cell service, perhaps still a landline, and probably strong Wi-Fi. But out on the road, that may not be the story. Many who enjoy the RV’ing lifestyle do so to dis-engage from the electronic world. Admittedly you do need a good cell connection while traveling, but that doesn’t always work out and one of the biggest complaints from campers is the quality of Wi-Fi at most campgrounds.

    Also, many travelers use second-tier cell providers such as Consumer Celluar, Metro PCS, Total Wireless, Cricket, and a host of others that don’t provide the connectivity or strength of the signal that the big boys like Verizon, A T & T, and T-Mobile.

    If a particular campground is so booked and busy, why can’t “They” call or text and confirm reservations like the Dr’s offices do. Email isn’t always available.

  2. Yes I like this idea, too. Customer should be told about email ahead of time, either verbally or written just to cover all the bases

  3. Due to a possible lack of cell service I do not think this is a great idea. I do think you should pay for the entire reservation up front and only get a full refund (minus a small service charge) if you cancel in advance.
    No shows should get no refund.

  4. Yes. It would stop people from reserving sites and not showing up. Also have to pay full price when you make a reservation.

  5. Sadly, we don’t have cell service in every location we visit. I would rather pay for the first night than risk my site being given away because I was in a dead cell zone.

  6. In my opinion thats not a good idea it is a terrible idea. I have camped in MANY areas without any cell service no matter what carrier you use. On another note, I spent over $80 to plug in and stay at an RV park for 10 hours in Estes Park. yes, I feel like a da*n fool paying that much!

  7. No I don’t think that is good…I might be in a area with no service. So agree if they don’t show up by a approved time/date the site is released to first come with no refund to the person who didn’t show up.

  8. Great idea! I would have zero issues with that. Several state parks lately have been doing that or also known as pre-arrival check-in.

  9. Requiring a response with only a one-day window probably won’t work too well out west.
    Way too often we are traveling we’ll stay for days in areas without any signal or services, knowing that the following day will be at a reserved location with full services.

  10. Yes, that would be reasonable. My wife checks in to her plane flights, in this exact way online, or via the airline app. Even if you do not receive that email, you can still; call the office, confirm on their web site, or booking site.

  11. No, often when we are traveling we don’t have access to strong internet. I think multiple emails starting 7 days before is a better idea. I also think that if parks charged double the rate for a “no show” would stop this nonsense. In Grand Canyon the RV park was “full”, yet 1/3 of the sites were vacant.

  12. This idea is good for some places and some folks. The issue is with cell service and locatation. Say you are in the boonies with no cell service (yes, it is very easy to be in this situation) and you have a State Park or National Park reservation in 2-3 days. They send you a text or email but of course you will not get it and your reservation will now be cancelled. This may work with 2-3 weeks notice but has limitations if only 2-3 days.

  13. No. I often don’t have a signal or access to wifi while traveling. It may be impossible to confirm in a very short time frame.

  14. We used to and still do, though not as often, pull a small pop up camper behind our motorcycle. Normally we can get a tent site with electric for a much less rate than the normal sites.
    There have been times that all we could get was a full blown site with WES. Yes it cost more but it really didn’t matter to us. If were traveling with friends with the same type of trailer, the campgrounds would let us set up both trailers on the same site, and MAYBE pay just the per night fee for the extra people.

  15. Two days is not enough time for the rv park to attract another camper for the site. Send out confirmation 1-2 weeks prior to arrival & give them 4or 5 days to respond. The other option is to send a confirmation request 2 weeks prior to arrival & require full payment within 3 days, or lose reservation. Original reservations made less than 2 weeks out should require full payment at that time. Have strict but fair refund policies. Just “changing our mind” would not qualify for refund.

  16. A lot of the reservation problems would be avoided if reservations were canceled without refund if the RVer hadn’t shown up or called by checkout time the next day.

    • It wouldn’t help free up sites that were only reserved for one night.
    • It wouldn’t penalize those who had been delayed by weather or equipment problems as long as they called to explain.

    Refunds should be easy for those who cancel with 24 or 48 hours notice. (Some campgrounds make it so hard to cancel that it’s not worth the trouble while on the road with limited connectivity.)

  17. I believe it’s the person who made the reservation to contact the campground not the campground. If you do not show up the 1st day. your reservations is cancelled and NO REFUND.

  18. I have no issue with this. Used to travel a lot with work and if you didn’t cancel a hotel room by a certain time you were charged for it if don’t show. Shouldn’t be a big deal in this day and age for the camper and the campground to manage

  19. Yes, but hate 5 days in advance cancellation policy. Had to pay one night as canceled 4 days prior. HEY, CG, will not recommend nor ever stay there again.

  20. Turn off the blinding outside lights, turn down the outside TVs & stereos, don’t set up huge projector screens, shut your dog up & keep it from straying from your site, quiet your kids in the evenings. Don’t show up at 10pm and start using your impact gun to level your camper.
    With campgrounds becoming more crowded, common courtesy seems to be forgotten.

  21. So far very little issues with finding a site. We go out with the RV when we can and we just plan ahead when we do…..”failing to plan is planning to fail”. In regards to the lazy filthy pigs littering with their trash, that has been a problem since man walked the Earth and it will never change. Some folks care and some folks could not care less. We have a Trasharoo strapped to the spare tire with trash bags and will take a ” trash walk ” while at camp to help with cleanup. I don’t believe rvtravel is responsible for adding to these or any other campground issues. Most newbies don’t use sites like this and I appreciate the info that sites like this provide.

    • Regarding the trash issue – you are exactly right. Trash in the outback is not a new issue. People have been dumping trash since trash was given a name. Even in ghost towns in NV you can find PILES of rusted cans left by the miners who were – GASP! – not interested in recycling. We don’t pick that stuff up because we’re “destroying history”. But when you run into the inevitable bath tub, automobile skeleton, and find TV’s, computer monitors, refrigerators, and bed springs, this is not RV trash, but local’s trash.

  22. Two days time to provide feedback to campground reservations is a little tight. Ey have my own personal WiFi Hotspot service, but many RV’ers do not. Depending on “public” WiFi such as libraries or coffee shops would difficult. Also, depending on personal WiFi is uncertain in many areas. What if a reservation is made and paid months in advance and you are one day late? There would be “hell to pay” at the campground office and many times a volunteer would take the brunt of it. Sorry Bonnie W. Ey don’t think your idea was well thought out.

  23. I think payment up front is the way to go, with a cancellation fee of 25%. Might stop a lot of the shenanigans with reservations.

  24. Don’t understand Sdw’s issue. Are they saying people are stupid for actually doing research before buying an RV or traveling in one? What “fault” is there here? People communicating??
    You are just reporting your research findings. YouTube channels are personal observations. These are the actions of humans interacting with each other, and if that is a “fault”, may we all rejoice in it.
    There are too many who seek blame instead of understanding, are too quick to anger, and refuse to listen to other’s views, especially if those views are different from their own.

  25. Not fair to release a site just because you’re traveling and didn’t get an email they sent. But I think if you haven’t either shown up or placed a phone call confirming you’ve been delayed, say by 7 p.m. the first night, then the site should be released.

  26. Yes, I do agree with an email or text confirmation for a reservation. If the camper doesn’t confirm, the site should be released.

  27. No, if we are two days out and without service or working as we do on the road, out of our camper in places with spotty service, we could miss the confirmation. I think it is good idea, but maybe put that on the camper to confirm up to week before and pay in full.

  28. Sounds good in theory but it really depends on execution of that policy. If I’m at home checking email, I wouldn’t worry about missing that confirmation, but checking email while traveling is a different story. I would rather have a phone call than a blindly sent email. I predict you would have a new newsletter topic on lost reservations that would be full of complaints if campgrounds started doing this.

  29. Confirmation would be nice but one isn’t always in an area with internet. Also not everyone uses technology. Some use a phone, guide book and map to make reservations.

  30. OK,the blame game. I too am going to blame RV travel. Not for the over crowding of campgrounds, or the increase of prices. But the trouble I get in every morning with the wife. It’s your fault for publishing such a good and informative news letter related to my RVing. I read it every morning first thing with my coffee and what do I hear, (are you on your computer again when you just opened your eyes). She just about says the same thing every day, and my response is the same. Yep, reading my RV Travel. I do share the jokes with her though, then I get a little snicker. Keep doing what you’re doing, If the big boys are getting upset, it means they’re worried that people are listening to you. Thanks for what you do.

    • I, too, go through the same ritual in the morning. Only difference is that my wife understands that I’ve learned and gotten real helpful insights to RV’ing on this website, along with YouTube when we first started in 2018. She’ll just pour her coffee and go through her emails in the tv room.

    • Thanks, Stephen! I was going to respond much sooner than this, but I got interrupted. And you know how as we get older the short-term memory goes and the long-term memory improves? Well, it’s been a couple of days now, so my long-term memory finally kicked in and reminded me I hadn’t responded to your very kind comment. So, thank you! (Better late than never, eh?) Sorry! Take care. 🙂 –Diane

    • Where don’t you have service? If you don’t have service you may want to look at another carrier. We have Verizon and only had weak service down in the Red River valley in TX and when we got to the top of the hill 800’ away we had 4 bars.

  31. If we always had email the idea is great. Unfortunately as we move through the non Metro areas of our travels we can easily go days (and if camped remote weeks) without email. I would find it very frustrating leaving a remote area for a new location to find our reservation had been canceled by a company policy.

  32. In theory, yes, great idea. But what happens when the recipient doesn’t have internet to see email or respond? This has been an issue for us in the past in a couple of locations.

  33. I think this is a great idea. This past summer, I was at a campground with multiple sites empty, even though, I was told that the site I wanted was not available, but remained empty the entire four days I was camping. I believe if a site remains open for more than one day, it should be open to first come first serve.

  34. Don’t let the occasional (bleeped) like Sdw get you down. Anybody who can conclude that you guys are part of the problem is obviously not thinking very clearly…


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