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.
Tips from a campground host
Reader Sandy P. reflects on her job, part of which is to teach new campers… She writes, “As a six-year campground host, I have seen a huge uptick in occupancy numbers. Unfortunately, many new campers are either unaware (of my job) or uncaring (also of my job) of rules and courtesy. My tips are: Search out state/national forest campgrounds that DON’T offer electric and water. Being a little more rustic is less popular (less crowded). Then, make a point to know the rules and expectations – it may save you disappointment… or an invitation to leave!”
Hotels, not sewer hoses!
For some, RV park or campground amenities aren’t as important as other things. Dorothee L. will go to a hotel for the amenities. “We usually go to COE or state park campgrounds. It takes some navigation with open spots, but we have to be flexible due to our work schedule. Having trees, space, being dog-friendly, and a good price are important. We also like small RV parks with 30 or fewer spaces because those are usually family-owned and well taken care of. If we want a pool, game room, splash pad and whatever else people want nowadays, we stay for the same money in a motel and don’t have to look at somebody’s sewer hose, because the spaces are more like a big parking lot with full hook up.”
Don’t like the oil drillers
Eileen M. posted this about the many RV parks that now cater to oil drillers. “Don’t like oil drillers changing the feel of campgrounds. It’s starting to feel like a trailer court. Political preference is also affecting things. The campground we stay at has given the drillers preference because they pull in more money. They are allowed to be obnoxious, to put up political banners that are not kid-friendly. They are allowed to have things on their spot, which it specifically says in the rules are not permitted. They’re given the best spots too. When we question things, we are treated like poo from that point on. I’m tired of it.”
“Nature is not a hotel”
Margret L. has really noticed a change in camping from what it used to be and finally gave it up. “I am 62 and I have camped all my life and I have full-timed also. I gave it all up because I have no tolerance for the ignorance of people who are disrespectful to others and to the environment and wildlife. People dumping their holding tanks on sides of roads, harassing wildlife, and camping in non-designated areas and leaving trash and excrement… Unfortunately, the BLM and park services are cut to small crews and can’t keep a handle on these problems. Nature is not a hotel and if people want to use it they have to respect it.”
Lisa A has found that even off-season camping is hard to find. “We have found that even trying to camp in the off-seasons has become a roll of the dice. People will live, not camp at these places and move to another park temporarily. They stay for the max time they’re allowed at each site, and, in many cases, this is many weeks. Some even treat you rudely and crowd your space because you have the spot they preferred – they’re camping bullies. I have even seen them unload freezers and plug into the campsite outlet and let the dogs roam about like they own the place. No etiquette and no respect for the fellow nature and relaxation seeker. It’s like they bring the big city attitude you are trying to get away from.”
Campgrounds are overwhelmed
We last heard from reader Audrey E, who is a wagonmaster for a large group, back in November. She wrote in again with more details: “I have been a ‘wagonmaster’ (I organize a large group for trips – not by profession but because I can organize our large camping group) for years. What surprised me was that during 2021, when I was trying to book large groups for at least two 2022 trips, I found that my efforts to book a group reservation was a challenge, and getting responses to my requests were not answered. May have been due to the lack of qualified office staff at the campgrounds due to hiring shortages, but I had to chase those campgrounds for months to get my crew booked.
“It is making me reconsider my willingness to continue to take on the wagonmaster role for the group. Campgrounds, in my opinion, are overwhelmed and groups just don’t hold the weight needed to demand the attention to book them. Sadly, if you want to book a trip with friends it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not you can as online is the only way to go.”
Aim for B grades, not A’s!
Candice B has been full-timing for 14 years and has some great advice. “To find less crowded campgrounds: Choose B-rated attractions instead of A-rated attractions. For example: try Thermopolis instead of Yellowstone. Find parks that are smaller, poorly advertised. Once you arrive at a destination you like, drive around and scope out future camping options for your next visit, maybe even taking notes of specific site numbers. Avoid parks with amenities such as swimming pools. Avoid Florida in January. Choose a rig under 20 feet as they are more likely to have a site available – larger sites sell out first. Look for parks further from the interstate as they will be cheaper and less busy. We’ve been full-timing 14 years.”
Great advice, Candice – Thanks!
Not enough parks
Tay J. sums it up succinctly and perfectly: “They built all these RVs and not enough parks!”
Ain’t that the truth!
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.
The RVer next to me has star link in my yard. I moved it a few feet so my dog wouldn’t pee on it. Not only did he move it back but rudely explained that he gets half my yard. NEVER have I experienced an RV bully before. This guy is making up for 10 years of peace.
That’s terrible, C rog. I suggest you just let your dog “respond in kind.” Just sayin’. Have a great day. 😀 –Diane at RVtravel.com
Yes, the one I’m in some people have been bullying me by damaging my car and breaking into camper while I’m gone. They are stalkers…they follow me in and outside the campground. If there are fellow officers seeing this post please make routine routes through campgrounds because these people think they can get away with this stuff. Most of the time they do.
They target certain individuals and pick them apart until they’re forced to leave. Unfortunately, this campground picked the wrong child of God….may He have mercy on them.
Lot’s of people live within the resort system. The people who gripe about them are selfish and arrogant and are blind to our country declining and what is happening to millions of people.
Yes- rude & dogs- don’t worry he is nice, as the dog is crapping in our area
I have commented on this before, but I have learned that when your popup has been assigned a pull through site because someone chose to not leave your site, owners of the big rigs become extremely angry and threatening that your popup is in the kind of site they must be assigned to. Yes, first they called the park ranger, then they called the Police !
Yes! We recently experienced a group of campers at Whittington Woods, Illinois, that thought they had the run of the entire campground, including walking right through our campsite by our chairs and fire pit and next to our canopy over our picnic table located next to our RV. Our dogs were on ropes but would go crazy when they got so close. Then these other campers complained to us that our dogs were barking. The hosts and owner did nothing! These people were so rude and cursed at us and then had friends visiting who joined in on the foul behavior. We eventually had to call the police due to their incessant harassment. Again, the owner did nothing but tell us if we didn’t like it we could leave. Come to find out the owner was friends with these people!
We had an experience virtually identical to this quite a number of years ago. Never went back to that campground.
Not that I recommend it, especially in today’s environment of “crazies” that will pull out a gun and shoot, but my two SILs and I ended it by physically backing them out of our sites and intimidating them with a little of their own medicine. Like most drunken cowardly bullies, they tucked tail and retreated to their own campers.
Eileen M. posted this about the many RV parks that now cater to oil drillers. “Don’t like oil drillers changing the feel of campgrounds. It’s starting to feel like a trailer court.”
Well Eileen, I hope your RV is electric powered because if it is not then you have the oil drillers, frackers, roughnecks, welders and even gate guards to thank. They work long hours and are away from their families for weeks to get the job done that needs to be done for you to travel.
Maybe true but no reason to become a jerk.
Yes I have. We were moved to a site that was a premium site and neighbor was upset because she was not allowed to have that site. We only did what owner saud but she tried to cause issues over it. Complained a lot so they moved her away from us.
I’m in agreement with Candace. Everyone wants the most popular destinations. My wife and I are the opposite. We camp to hopefully avoid large crowds of rude people. We purposely choose lesser known destinations and usually find them to be hidden gems.
We’ve been on our annual Snowbirding trip since Sept 30, moving at least once a week. We did make reservations last Summer, but have found that while parks are full, the only real serious change is that there are more long-term tenants in most parks than there were before Covid. Planning ahead still works, for us…
Yes, we had to ask them to remove their stuff so we could get in. At first they gave me a a**ed answer. I maintained my sweetest perkiest voice, so they let me in. People need to be escorted to their site. The site hogs tried to convince our site was one over that was uneven and our rig would have been left hanging out.