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.
All the large RV sites were gone in 30 seconds
This week, I personally discovered the unfortunate truth that so many of our readers have written to me about. The available campsites disappear in seconds on opening day. Every year at exactly the minute campsites are released for the summer at a regional park in Minnesota, I reserve four weeks at one of our favorite spots. This year, as always, I was super ready—logged in on my computer and iPad, dates and sites wanted written in large letters on a notepad along with RV license number and credit card info. At exactly 9:00 a.m. CST I hit the button and the sites were gone. Gone, gone, gone. Not just our favorite sites but all except one large rig site.
We were camp hosts at that park. I know the last of the sites is not desirable and it will be a tight squeeze to even get into it. If we want to sit outside any time in the first two weeks, it will be sitting scrunched up to the side of the motorhome so we don’t get hit by passing cars.
Geez! I booked and paid more than $600 for the first two weeks and another $600 for the last two weeks. As we can only book 14 days in a month, I am left scrambling for the remainder of the summer. Wish I had heeded more of our readers’ advice and planned earlier…
Longtime camper says “book in advance”
Richard F. gives us the advice I should have followed. Richard says, “Longtime camper here (78-years-old). Yes, now you have to make reservations, if you want a specific site, as soon as reservations open up… to the minute! The West Coast is much worse than the East Coast. One-nighters are pretty easy, especially if you join things like Harvest Hosts, but still, it’s best if you book in advance.”
Pick fewer hookup options
I liked this tip from Karyn C.: “I have not found any issues finding places to stay. Choosing USFS, Army Corps of Engineers, state and county parks more than KOAs and other private parks has been a big help. For the really popular spots, I still find you need to book 6-12 months out, but this has been normal in the Pacific Northwest for some years now. I do more off-the-beaten-path camping in general.
“Pick places with fewer hookup options as they are almost always easy to get into. I generally am happy to dry camp for several days, and don’t need wifi access to be happy (that’s what Verizon unlimited is for now, lol).”
Using their money for other things
David W. looks at boondocking not just from an availability perspective. He says, “My wife and I mostly boondock. I own a Class A motorhome and we prefer boondocking as this allows us to use our money for other things. We stayed at a campground twice this year. No crowds there.”
Got kicked out after paying!
JQ had an unfortunate experience in Utah. They wrote, “American Land and Leisure out of Utah is the worst thing that has happened to camping. Ridiculous, confusing rules just to maximize their profits. One-way communication with the camp hosts and forcing people from their sites because online reservations have top priorities over verbal, face-to-face payments.
“We found an open site on the Oregon coast. Paid for three days, and two hours later was told by the campground host to move because someone just took it from us with an online reservation… after we paid in full! The campground host also mentioned calling the sheriff if we didn’t immediately move. I asked them where should we go? The host replied, ‘Anywhere but here.’ Gee, thanks.”
“I resent this”
Vicki S. laments staying the summer in Yuma. “We have been full-time RVing for 15 years. Yuma in the winter and Salt Lake City in the summer. There are no longer campsites in SLC and we have to live in Yuma. 117 degree temps during the summer. I must admit I resent this.”
Glad they are at the end of RVing
Sue is sadly at the end of camping and sums it up. She says, “If you have to go to all that effort to camp, glad we’re at the end of our RVing life. Still have an RV and belong to a membership campground in Branson, so we can go there with no hassles.”
From our forum…
Cathy S. has a suggestion using license plate numbers: “They should set up a system where people can’t reserve more than one spot at the same time by using license plates as a default to catch the double-booking. Choosing several and deciding at the last minute ties up spots. Cancellation costs are so low that some people don’t care.”
Tina is not finding campground crowding, even while traveling. She writes, “We have stayed in an RV Park in Sierra Vista, AZ, for several months for the past five years. It has expanded during that time, but has rarely been full. The management is fabulous and there are several amenities to enjoy right in the park. On the annual trip to AZ from MN, we have never been told there was ‘no room in the inn.’ We are currently in Amite, LA, after leaving AZ, and the large park here is not half full. Are we just lucky, or are others more particular about where they stay?”
Now, some questions for you:
• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or is finding a place to stay not a problem?
• 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 join me in my forum to discuss your answer to these questions. Maybe other RVers have a solution for you!
Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column here: They called one campground 121 times for a reservation
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