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.
Stay away! You’re ruining the beauty!
Debra S. would prefer if non-residents would just stay away! “Fricking overcrowding sucks! I am tired of people coming to Arkansas to ruin what beauty we have here. We are local and can’t find places to camp with our motorhome. People need to be responsible and respectful of others. Thank you.”
We understand your frustrations, Debra, but isn’t the whole point of RVing to get out and see the country? We couldn’t do that if we all stayed in the same state all the time. You should be honored to live in such a beautiful place that so many other travelers want to see and experience.
We are travelers, not campers, too
A couple of weeks ago reader Sue N. said they are travelers, not campers (read Sue’s comment here). Anthony D. agrees. “Like Sue, we don’t camp. We travel. It’s easier to have our home travel with us so we are ‘full-timers.’ We typically stay at least four months wherever we go with two-nighters while in transit. When/where possible, we workcamp.
“Our goal is to visit interesting locales, meet people whose perspectives may be different from ours, and do productive things. We workcamp mostly at government parks with most of our targeted destinations not being campgrounds. We maintain trails, help sustain monuments and historic buildings and contribute to educating the public about these valuable local and national assets while greatly enhancing our own appreciation of these places and the people who care for them.”
John K. agrees with Sue and Anthony. “I bought my RV to TRAVEL safely in, NOT to ‘camp’ although Covid has thrown a wrench in traveling.”
Rules made for a few affects everyone
Gail W. writes to us about the changes to camping rules in Florida that are affecting their camping season. “We have been traveling in our 19-foot van for just over two years. We actually started pre-covid; however, only just. We never intended on going to plug-in RV parks often, only when necessary. The reality is they’re almost always booked anyway and you can’t get in anywhere near at the last minute!
“We stay in primitive camping and wetlands in Florida, however, the wetlands in Florida rules have all changed as of October 2021 and now you can only stay there for 30 days total in all the parks for a complete year! So that’s pretty much shut down our winter since that’s what we tend to do is hop parks in the winter. So sad, the parks are mostly going to be empty now because the people like me who do this no longer can and they were open to begin with. I have no idea why they put this rule here. 🙁 If it were not open and always booked up I would understand, but that’s just not the case. At least not with all of them. The ones we stayed in had lots of availability.
“I wish they had only done it to the parks that are overbooked constantly. I never understood the rules that were made for just a few but affect everyone. So, yes, we have been affected to some degree, but most of the time we’re staying on the road in primitive campgrounds or government land. We are completely self-contained so we have everything we need with us. We also leave every place we go better than when we got there… trying to make up for those idiots that leave trash or destroy things.”
Reserved but empty
Walt F. saw fully reserved campsites in Oregon but no one was there camping. “We recently hiked around Suttle Lake in Oregon. Since we plan on going full-time in RV, I looked at one of the state campgrounds. Every site we saw was reserved for that day, as well as the prior day. Only two were occupied! Reserve for $15, and then not use it seems to be a trend.”
Give real campers their campsites back!
Remember when camping wasn’t cool? Pamela T. reminisces and wishes everyone with an RV over 32 feet would go stay in a motel! “We have owned a camper for more than 30 years and yes, now we have problems getting a campsite. You have to make reservations at least six months in advance. Thirty years ago, you could go to the campground and pick out your site. Camping was not the cool thing to do back then. I think the people staying in an RV more than 32 feet need to go back to staying in a motel/hotel or condo and give the ‘real campers’ their campsites back.”
Meg B. thinks having to reserve campgrounds months ahead is just plain depressing. She writes, “The thought of reserving campgrounds months in advance is depressing to me. My husband passed away recently, but when we were able, we took off for weeks or months at a time with no itinerary.
“In our Ford 250 with the truck camper, we had high clearance, 4WD, and the footprint of just a truck. We’d camp wherever we found a fire ring, park on BLM land with free-ranging cattle, at trailheads, marinas, on the beach, or on unimproved roads. We used campgrounds mostly in national parks, staying at remote, free sites if they existed, like in the Panamint Mountains of Death Valley or the backcountry of Capitol Reef. We called ourselves the ‘End-of-Roaders.'”
So sorry for your loss, Meg. It sounds like you and your husband had the most wonderful adventures.
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.
Really Pam T. I realize you are entitled to your opinion, but, what gives you the right to decide what constitutes “camping”???
At Pamela T.
Well,…I guess since our rig is just under 30′ long, we must be ‘real campers’.
We have met wonderful people in all sizes of rigs, including the 40 footers. That includes the elderly couple in a small RV park in Tulsa, that had a beautiful Newell. Wonderful couple.
Suttle lake is in the Bend/Sisters Oregon area. There are a ton of small lakes and nfs/blm campgrounds. People will make a week or 2 reservation and drive out after work on Friday and leave Sunday night or Monday morning. This has been happening for years. There are just many more people living in the area. If you wanted to stop it you would have to raise rates. That would also cause complaints. The population has gone up so much you now have to make a reservation to hike the most popular trails. No shows this year were in the 40-50 percent range for hiking. Things are going to have to change when there are more people utilizing the resources. And there are still quite a few first come first serve campsites. They just aren’t in the prime locations
Empty sites are not your problem. If you are there, parked and hooked up, then you obviously got a site.
By the way, if you were a business owner and folks prepaid you for your goods or services, but never picked them up/used them, would you be bothered by it? Would you track them down and try to deliver their goods to them? Go out of your way? Likely not. You would pocket the change and keep on moving.
Parks are short-staffed already. They do not have time — nor is it their charge — to monitor those who skipped class today. BTW, there is no mandatory attendance policy.
We just completed a two month cross country trip staying at private campgrounds. Using RV Life and Passport America as a guide. We made reservations the night before. The only long term reservation (two at two weeks each) were for San Diego and Pechanga RV resort. They were made about one month in advance. Not once did we encounter a totally booked campground. We did stay at CGs with obviously full time residents and work campers but most of our stays were only for one night. All CGs were along routes I-10, I-20 and I-8. We just returned last Saturday night.
So full camp grounds… nope!
Been in your state of Arkansas in various campgrounds the last 3 weeks and no issues finding a place to park. I certainly don’t do anything to ruin what you have here or anywhere else I camp. Hopefully if you ever come to North Carolina to stay with your motorhome, we won’t have your additude about you visiting
Learn to dry camp and you’ll have very few problems. All the newbies want full hookups.
“I think the people staying in an RV more than 32 feet need to go back to staying in a motel/hotel or condo and give the ‘real campers’ their campsites back.”
I’m sorry, but this is ridiculous. What has the length got to do with it?
To address the comment from Pamela T that anyone traveling in an RV over 32′ long, it doesn’t matter how long the RV is, it’s still taking up a site. We live full-time in a 40′ motorhome and don’t want to pack and unpack all the time. We worked very hard to be able to afford what we have and see the country. I also don’t consider what we do ‘camping’. To me that signifies what people do while on vacation which we’re not.
How exactly do you or anyone else, actually “know” that the campsite is reserved? Just curious, I keep reading it over and over again on this website. Do you go ask management or the office if it’s reserved? Is there a reserved sign on the pedastal or site marker? You all that nosey, you have a site, enjoy your time, that’s why your out there. Be it camping or traveling, stop the whining!
Oh my. There is either a website attached to the site that says it’s booked, a tag at the site that says it’s booked or you can be told the campground is booked up. We sat in Oregon with 50% TAGGED BOOKED empty sites for the entire weekend. It’s not nosy, it’s reality, and if you’ve been camping for any length of time you know this is definitely a new trend.
We’ve seen the exact same thing. Reserved tags and sites stay vacant our entire stay.
I don’t know about private parks, but at most state and national campground there is a tag with a name and the dates of the reservation. We were camping at a state park last week and every site had a tag on it and indicating it was reserved for multiple days. However, I would say the campground was half empty the whole week.
Meg, don’t tell anybody else, but the kind of camping you describe is still quite available.
Not having any problems at this time. But, with the opening of the gates on Nov.8, there will be some strain on the system.
Hello, Canadians, come on down.
There already is a strain on campgrounds without the Canadians coming down. Wanted to make reservations 3 months out at a particular campground just for 2 weeks and they are booked. Also the monthly sites are booked a year on advance.
Wow…As a Canadian snowbird I consider myself a wannabe full time RVer,…reading these comments has been an eye opener for me…I won’t be “camping” anytime soon judging by the selfish, narrow mindedness of these comments…I know I’ve dodged a bullet here!
I feel very sorry for our Canadian friends. They couldn’t reserve anything this snow bird season because of border issues. Now they can come south but where they stay might be very uncertain.