Tuesday, July 5, 2022

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Campground Crowding: ‘The park was so crowded my RV was parked over someone’s fire ring’

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.

“It’s just too much work” because of campground crowding

Marianne D. is sadly going to sell her RV. Here’s why: “We are going to sell our motorhome. It’s just too much work to try and get reservations when and where we want (Florida). Especially in the winter when camping is far more pleasant. I hate to cave in to those that ‘play the game,’ but I give up. We thought it would be great to finally be able to get the ‘senior discount’ at the State Parks, but if we can get a site it’s not usually at a State Park.”

A thumbs up for recreation.gov

Unlike what seems like the majority of our readers, M.M. has had good experiences with recreation.gov. “I have had good experiences with recreation.gov. The thing is that you need to plan your trips, but that’s even at private campgrounds lately. I do think recreation.gov should be more receptive to being able to easily modify/cancel a reservation at the last minute, but I have been told by recreation.gov that some individual state parks want the campground attendant to handle that job… makes no sense to me. It is also my understanding though that some attendees at state parks don’t update their vacancies. We have witnessed that.”

Another reader, Susie A., also reports that they have never had a problem with recreation.gov. “We use recreation.gov to book a 2-week stay monthly at a COE park. We do book 5-6 months out and are there for two full weeks. It hasn’t been as crowded this year as it was last year. We enjoy the crowded weekends and less crowded weekdays. Have never had an issue with rec.gov and have used them for at least 30 yrs.”

She reported fire danger; they reported her gone!

Sonja H. had a miserable experience over this past Memorial Day weekend. She writes, “Spring Valley Campground was so overcrowded this weekend (Memorial Day) that they had my unit parked with my pullout over someone’s fire ring. With major issues over the fire ring being too close even after moving my unit over, I ended up calling the local fire dept. The manager refused to accommodate me in any manner, and actually ordered my family off the park. Which consists of myself, a widow of only three months, age 60, my 40-year-old daughter, and her three children, 13, 15, and 16.”

Competing with full-timers

Nate W. gave up due to crowding and sold the RV. “Competing with local full-timers. They aren’t really camping or going anywhere. Just moving from one spot to another, snapping up more reservations. We used to camp regionally Wed.-Fri. a couple of times per month. No crowds. Now, no spots. Sold the RV.”

Ban no-shows for a year

Jack L. has seen a lot of no-shows on the weekends and has this suggestion: “In some campgrounds, all weekends are booked. At least 30-40 percent are no-shows. No way to camp for more than a week because of this. No-shows should be barred from online campsites for a year to get them to stop this.”



Do “bots” scoop up the best sites?

Kathy B. has a comment about tents using a 50-amp site and has a question, too. “I really don’t see this improving any time soon. And to the person who was upset because there was a tent on an RV site with hookups? (Mentioned here.) What’s that camper supposed to do, just stay home? I do believe that the government reservation system should return a site to the availability list as soon as it is canceled. But I suggest these campgrounds count on a certain amount of vacancies because they are barely staffed as it is: a full campground would be overwhelming. I do have a question: I am told that “bots” scoop up all the best sites remotely. Any truth to this?” Well, Kathy, find out here.

Wife is pretty creative

Neal D. has had good luck making reservations, or, rather, his wife has! “We decided late last week (Thursday, 5/26) to attend Newmar’s international rally in SW Wyoming. By Friday afternoon we had made several reservations to create a month-long trip including stops in Colorado (Fort Collins), Utah (Bryce City), Arizona (Flagstaff), and New Mexico (Albuquerque), in addition to the rally. I guess my wife is pretty creative. Plus, making reservations for a 36′ DP is a bit easier than making them for a 43′ DP. She used a combination of state parks, Boondockers Welcome sites, and KOAs.”



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 here: Would you pay more to have access to canceled sites?

##RVT1056b

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pursuits
22 days ago

After having to cancel our summer trip then paying several hundred dollars’ worth of cancellation fees, I have a few observations and questions.

  1. Many cancellation fee policies are plain greed. A few campgrounds got a full night cancellation fee when we cancelled TWO months ahead! We marked those off our list for the redo trip in the fall.
  2. Most online reservation sites charged the same cancellation fee for one night as for multiple nights. Good reason for choosing centralized locations for longer stays and doing more day trips.
  3. The most gracious campgrounds for cancellations were usually the mom-and-pop, smaller campgrounds. Several of those did not charge any fees. They moved to the top of the redo trip list!
  4. Why has payment-in-full become necessary if there are cancellation fees? I know what “float” is and that’s my $$ you’re playing with!
Bob p
22 days ago

As I’ve said before don’t be afraid to dial the campgrounds and ask if they have sites. Many times you may be surprised to find the computerized system doesn’t know as much as you might think. I’ve successfully done this several times.

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