Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Campground Crowding: Hospitals should add sites to their parking lots

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, RVtravel.com 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.

Travel nurse, too

Last week in this column we talked about travel nurses having nowhere to stay.

Leonard Z.’s wife is a travel nurse, too. “In response to Sharon J: My wife is a travel nurse, too, and we ran into the same thing when she had a contract in Fort Myers. Guaranteed it is the same RV park. NO REFUND at all as my wife’s contract was canceled. They didn’t care, and I know it was rebooked within a day. In San Jose, we were paying $550/week, but it was clean and safe. I do all the bookings for parks and have many stories to tell about finding a park. We have a 43-foot Tiffin.”

Thanks to us…

Mark S. sent his thanks to us. “Thanks to forward-looking articles from RVtravel.com, we purchased a camping membership through Thousand Trails almost two years ago. Our contract allows us to book up to 210 days ahead. Unsurprisingly, we have had almost no difficulty booking into our preferred parks. Booking early cannot be overstated. We’ve only had issues when trying to book last minute.”

Hospitals need hookups, too

Mike S. shared a great idea with us. “Hospitals need to consider installing a few full hook-up sites on their property where possible for staff members with RVs.”

We ran an article awhile ago regarding staying in an RV while you or a loved one are in the hospital: Need hospital care? Your RV may be welcome.

Hey, what if hospitals had parking for other RVers, too, not just staff members or patients and their families? That would add a whole lot of pavement camping sites around the country…

Continue to cruise the long and winding road

Don V. will continue to cruise despite the difficulty to get reservations. Don writes, “Am a full-timer and finding sites near attractions and within 2-3 hours of urban areas has become increasingly difficult. I’ve had to book 2-3 weeks in advance along whatever route taken. Complete antithesis to my freebird spirit. If no online reservation, won’t call as usually have to leave a message and callbacks are not timely, if at all. If not bothered to drive 1-2 hours to whatever you want to visit, then RV parks can be less crowded, though may not be up to your standards. Yes, it’s frustrating, but I’ll continue to cruise the long and winding road.

Why even bother canceling?

Shimmy K. writes about the minimal penalty for canceling. “There’s such few consequences in NPs/SPs for canceling or not showing up so people book multiple sites at different campgrounds for the same night hoping to string together a multi-day stay. Why bother canceling when your penalty is $10 and you can cancel the day of?! Recreation.gov needs to get savvier, track multiple bookings, and implement real financial consequences for canceling/no shows.”

Booked through March of 2023!

Ted A. is really booked out! Nice job, Ted! He says, “I book six months out and use Harvest Hosts as much as possible for travel days. Except for October (waiting on the KC Chiefs schedule to be released) and Harvest Host travel days, we are booked through March of 2023.”

Gracious and helpful hosts

Bruce S. bought a site but travels all summer. He has found great people along the way. “My wife and I have lived in a 2018 Vilano 40-foot 5th wheel for the last four years. Early on we decided to find a home base for the winter, so we bought a site in Brownsville, TX, at an RV resort called Riverbend. We stay there from about mid-October through April. During the summers we travel. Last summer we drove 16,200 miles up to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and back. I always call 4 – 6 months in advance and have not had any difficulty finding sites. We also found pretty much everywhere to be populated by gracious and helpful hosts and guests, even in New York and New Jersey.”

Gone to a seasonal site

Glen C. found getting sites exhausting. “For the first time in camping for 30+ years, my wife and I have gone to a seasonal site. Last year was exhausting trying to find campsites. We’ll try it this year. If we don’t like the seasonal way, we’ll go back to the old way.”

“Newbies will lose interest” and real RV people will buy their RVs

John B. is not having as much fun anymore. He explains, “It’s just not that fun to hang with the new crowd. All reservations need to have requirements for occupation of the campsites the first night. If not, the site is given away with no refund. More first come/first serve sites need to be held back. Easily done. When booking sites, make rules clear and check the box that makes a signature required so when they have no site because they are entitled, too bad. Newbies will lose interest and RVs will sell for lower prices with good units on the market with real RV people buying them.”

This newbie is part of the “new wave”

Chris B. is part of the new wave and sees supply as an issue. “I’m part of the new wave; it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. COVID accelerated my plans to do so. I think part of the problem is also supply… there seems to be a limited selection, at least in the Pacific NW. Oregon state and private parks are fully booked, even looking ahead for this summer has been impossible. I hope this wave of demand spurs more development and investment into more supply, whether public or private. I’d personally like to see more fully-developed parks like the new one in Flagstaff come to more places across the country.”

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 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: Travel nurses have nowhere to stay


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.


  1. For this summer, possibly a big increase in no-shows, as people made reservations when gas was much cheaper. We’ll see what happens over Memorial Day and July 4th.

  2. Hospital rv parking was initially made available for family members of patients who were critically ill or had extended stay requirements. I think this should remain the priority.

    • I agree with you, Drew. I’ve worked as a campground office volunteer in Denver, and I was really surprised at how many guests were there for medical reasons, their own and those of family. I believe hospital facilities should be used to serve patients and families first, and temporary staff needs only if available.
      As for traveling nurses & therapists, most make very good money for this type of work, much more than the local staff. They shouldn’t take a contract if they can’t find a place to live.

      • Have fun with longer waits in ERs, cause noone will take contracts in those areas. Our contracts aren’t confirmed until days before sometimes & since places refuse refunds we can’t book until last minute.

  3. Nice if you live in the wide open area.
    Most hospitals up the Atlantic coast don’t have parking lots that are big enough to hold patients, let alone RV’s.

  4. Six years ago, my son (age 52) was in Pensacola, FL and had heart bypass surgery and I stayed at the hospital parking lot in my small Rialta. The hospital had a 30 amp plug back side of parking lot and let me hook up for free while there. It was very humid in June, so A/C was needed. Son was released a week later, and we stayed at motel for one week for follow up doctor visit. Great service that all hospitals should provide.

  5. You should check out the large (actually huge) Baylor, Scott & White hospital campus at Temple, TX. They have RV spaces set aside for families visiting loved ones while admitted there. They also have some RV sites at their Hillcrest Unit in Waco.

    Now there’s a hospital chain with foresight.

  6. I do think a few sites for traveling nurses,internships and families with family in hospital a great idea. BUT I do not see them allowing others. I have been to some hospital parking lots where I had to drive around and around to find parking. Hoping someone would pull out to get it.

    • Our private practitioners are in a medical office building adjoining a hospital and they share the same parking lots. We have been late for appointments due to the lack of parking. RV parking should only be available at hospitals if they add separate lots strictly for the RVs.


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