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.