Friday, June 9, 2023


Campground Crowding: A hidden way the cost of RVing is increasing. Have you experienced this?

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.

Car camper stigmatized

Sean D. sent us this email this week which gave me pause to examine my attitude. I hope it gives others pause too. Sean wrote, “I think I probably would be seen as an oddball in my lifestyle. To date, I have never owned a truck, camper, RV, or any self-contained vehicle. In 2013 I left my apartment dwelling and decided to live out of my car. For five of the last eight years, that is what I have been doing.

“Both of my parents have passed, my father last year, and I received an inheritance of $100K. Unfortunate time for me to receive that money because everything has nearly doubled in price. So I continue to camp out of my car until hopefully my money is worth more than it is now. I have noticed extreme crowding increasing over the last eight years.

“I have money to pay $35 a day for county and state parks, but like so many have said they are generally booked. Thank God for BLM land and that not everybody is aware of it! I find privacy and comfort staying there. I spent my summer in Montana and am now in Arizona for the winter.

“It is not easy being a single male car camper because almost always other RVers stigmatize you. No one introduces themselves to me nor generally engages me in any way. It used to really bother me but I am getting used to it. My dream though is to own a truck and a nice camper. But I am waiting till prices drop and availability is there.”

Sean, we’d love to meet you at a campground or find you enjoying your space on BLM land. We wish we could all sit around the campfire together!

“Just make your reservation before I do!”

Al S. has been making reservations for 17 years. “We don’t go anywhere without reservations and it’s been that way for 17 years for us. If I can’t get a reservation I don’t go there or the area. It’s simple. I have been traveling for work since 1972. Why would I not make resvervations before I go? Going with an RV is the same. Certainly, it makes sense to plan a recreational stay at any location. If you like BLM, have at it. I will take air and convenience before anything. As for invading one’s local campgrounds, just make your reservation before I do and you will be happy and I’ll be staying in another location.”

Enjoy the process while avoiding campground crowding

Greg W. enjoys planning ahead. “My wife and I are retired and live full time in a 40-ft. diesel pusher. Because of that, we do plan far in advance. We enjoy researching and planning our routes. We are travelers. With this in mind, we have little trouble making reservations. This year on the West Coast the fires in Yosemite and Sequoia altered our plans last minute. We had little trouble finding spots on a safer route and found great, interesting people and places to visit. Sure there were trade-offs, but we enjoyed every minute.”

A plea from camp host: CANCEL your reservation

Jeri B. is a campground host and is also frustrated when campsites are reserved but with no-shows. “I am a campground host in Oregon and share the frustration of CAMPGROUND FULL signs with many empty sites. The problem is that people don’t have the courtesy to cancel their reservation if they’re not coming. If it’s paid for, the campground has to hold the site… who knows, they may be arriving at midnight? So please, if you’re not coming, CANCEL your reservation so others may enjoy.” That would help to alleviate some of the campground crowding.

Annual rentals only!

Bob S. sent us this worrisome information: “We recently realized another way the price of RVing is increasing. Our reasonably priced wintering RV Park in Arizona announced they will be transitioning to ‘annual’ rentals only. We typically stay for three winter months at $750/mo. (total $2,250). Now our only option for the same time frame in this park will be to stay for three months but pay for 12 months at $6,000. We started looking for a new winter park in the same area and found that many of them already have this ‘annual only’ requirement.”

Hasn’t experienced a kerfuffle regarding campground crowding… yet

Paul B. wrote to us about finding a place to stay. “Fortunately I still haven’t experienced a kerfuffle about finding a place to stay. Of course, I’m out West, where BLM land is plenty. Even so, I recently had to delay my arrival to Quartzsite by two months with little notice. Work sure puts a dent in your plans. I was able to snag three weeks at the Palm Springs Thousand Trails followed by a week of boondocking, then back to Palm Springs for three more weeks, 10 days at another RV park then back to Palm Springs for the last two weeks. And we are entering the winter busy season! Yes, the park is fairly full but there are still open spots. I hope the reservation gods smile favorably on you.”

Everyone else is the problem… Not!

Traveler P. wrote about us all causing the problem! They wrote, “Sure seems like everyone thinks everyone else is the problem… ‘People in RVs over 32 feet,’ ‘people from outside Arkansas,’ ‘people who make reservations and don’t use them.’ Sheesh! We’re all causing overcrowding!”

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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Vanessa Simmons
1 year ago

So you pay the $6000 annual rent but leave after 3 months, can you sublet your space?

You go away for a few weeks or months and come back and your space is rented to someone else does that break the agreement? I mean will the campground actually leave the space empty for 9 months?

Carl J
1 year ago

Sorry but if you are living in your car and have been for years, you ain’t RV’ing. Your homeless.
The annual lease requirements is just RV parks monetizing the fact that they are catering to the FT resident crowd. They are no longer RV parks but trailer parks.

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

Question: If you have to lease a campsite for a year, and use it for three months, can other campers sub-lease your campsite from you? I think the Escapees Livingstons site has campsites owned by members that the Campground can rent out.

1 year ago


I was reading the lead-in to this article and quickly started thinking to myself, gotta go out west during off season to find some open parks and BLM spots…….

THEN you shot THAT down.

Face it, folks, while there is STILL time: Go buy yourself 20 acres 40-60 miles out into the country, then get it set up to put your RV right in the middle of it, hopefully surrounded by trees and such…….and infrastructure it for however long you plan to use it……a hole in the ground for occasional use, a septic for frequent use, water?, generator?, etc. Pick a county where they don’t have Gestapo inspectors…….

THEN, when you’re NOT using it, you can rent it out to your neighbors once a year.

Next thing you know, you’ve got an RV park and it’s crowded all the time!

Shux, guess you can’t win. It was nice while it lasted……..

1 year ago

Took several calls to many RV parks to get a simple reservation in Feb. Hope the Canadians bring lots of money. LOL. You snooze, you loose.

1 year ago

Re:. Sean, prices are going to increase before ever coming down, that’s just wishful thinking. Don’t wait for others to say hello, initiate it. It may show to others who you are. Good luck.

The Lazy Q
1 year ago
Reply to  gFab

I am saying the same, buy your good used truck and camper now, that $100k will be worth much less from year to year probably for the rest of our lives. Bankrupt America is the flavor of the day. Go get what you need now and enjoy the comfort that you can.

1 year ago
Reply to  gFab

I would not be put off because you live in your car. I know several people who live full time in their vehicles. I am a solo female RVer and I’m always cautious, aware of my surroundings and don’t approach all my neighboring campers. I would treat you no differently if you had a truck camper, bumper pull, MH, etc.

I agree with gFab and The Lazy Q. Buy something now; introduce yourself. Not everyone will want to talk to you but as a whole, campers are a friendly bunch.

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