Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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Campground Crowding: Reader shares a very humbling reminder

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.

Kansas rules

Jerry H. wrote about Kansas State Parks policy. “In Kansas State Parks reservations are the full price to camp and if not canceled in advance the total amount is forfeited. Been that way for a while, but some still have the money to just let it go. Maybe they don’t want neighbors.”

User-unfriendly

Claude P. wrote about the unfriendly reservation system. “The reservation system must be changed. We camp 16+ weeks per year. We wake up at midnight on the first day available to reserve. Sometimes all sites are already gone. Not sure how this happens. When we camp we always see at least 30% of sites unoccupied. Last April in Grand Canyon it was 50%. 1 out of every 2 booked were paid for but EMPTY.

  1. There has to be a cut-off time to arrive or the site can be given to one of the many who show up empty-handed.
  2. There has to be a financial incentive to cancel if you will not show up. Some states charge you a fee to cancel without giving any refund!!?? It pays you NOT to cancel. This is absurd.
  3. Reserve America, Recreation.gov, and state sites are very slow, user-unfriendly and do not clearly advise when reservation windows are. Fix them!
  4. Lastly, stay home. I want to camp, you know, hike and see the stars, not sit inside and watch my 56” big screen! Why on Earth don’t you stay home to do that???”

Win-Win

Theresa K. found a winning solution to campground crowding: Workcamping! “I’ve found campgrounds getting more crowded and harder to book. I found an unlikely, but actually great, way to get around this—I took a Workamping job. I happened to take 6 months because I had to be in one location for some family functions. But you can take month-by-month jobs. Not only are you guaranteed a site, but it’s way more affordable while allowing one time to visit the area. It’s a win-win.”

Adjust, adapt and bring the party with you

Ed R. has sage advice and tips for avoiding crowded campgrounds. He writes, “My experience may be a little different from most RVers because my wife and two little ones are full-timers and don’t have a problem boondocking and not having the so-called ‘comforts’ of a full-hookup site. We have been having no problem getting into state parks nationwide and my two exploring young ones live to wake up on a farm meadow in the middle of nowhere with cows or goats outside their window or spending a night or two in the parking lot of a liquor distillery. Folks have to learn how to adjust and adapt in the RV world and realize that whatever you’re pulling or driving is pretty much self-contained and you bring the party or relaxation with you. Don’t count the days, make the days count, is our mantra.”

Back to tent camping they go

Deb D. has parked the RV for good. She explains, “Sadly, we’ve parked to stay. It’s not the same. The people are not the same. We find more peace and definitely less hassle staying home. We’ve gone back to car/tent camping when we want to get out there. It gives us a lot more options to actually enjoy nature as we can get off the road and away from the crowds.”



Just be thankful

Diane E. is unable to camp anymore and she has these words for us to remember to always be grateful. She says, “This summer (2022) we planned a trip to WA from GA. We took the time to plan out stops and made reservations early. We paid special attention to Yellowstone. The day we were leaving, just as we were walking out the door, my Physician’s office called and said more tests were needed now. Now, we are unable to camp (RV) anymore. I would be so thankful if we could get in our RV and go. I would not care about campground crowding. So, if you can go out in the RV and it is not like it was two years ago, just be thankful you are going at all. Now our RV is for sale and I feel like crying each time I see it.”

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

##RVT1057b

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Sherry B.
16 days ago

I’m sorry, but I’m tired hearing about how hard, unfriendly the reservation systems are. We have FT for the last 3 years, no s&b anymore. We winter in S. Texas Nov-Feb, and have 2 main trips a year, March & April, Then June-Sept. We spend all of May and Oct taking care of family obligations. DH and I discuss where we want to go, what to do and when, then I get started making plans, routing and reservations. I have more trouble getting reservations in privately owned parks than anything I do on rec.gov or reserve america. For the most part rec.gov is 6 months out for most places, but reserve america is different for every state. We had an entire trip planned out for this summer following the Snake and Columbia rivers Leaving Wisconsin May 27 and returning Oct 1st, 18 reservations for 127 nights. We had to cancel due to family issue, and yes I canceled every reservation. I was thanked by several places for cancelling, even had 1 fee dismissed because I cancelled so early.

Freewheeler
16 days ago

While work camping is one way to ensure a site, it is not a solution to the crowding problem.
The last thing needed is to encourage work camping solely as a way to assure a reserved site — or a freebie.

Work camping is a great way to travel if you do it for the right reasons. A free site alone isn’t a good enough reason.

I’ll ask you this: when you are camping and need help or have an emergency, do you want to depend on the guy who is there for the free site? Or the guy who is there because he genuinely enjoys helping others?

Paul
16 days ago

As most timers we have roamed the country in a variety of ways. We started as tent campers but found long distance travel cumbersome, set up and take down were time consuming and as we aged the ground was further away and harder. 21 years ago we bought our first motorhome and roamed the country with no set plans first for weeks then for months until we sold the s & b. We are older now and most of our RV travel is cross country, from our site in Jojoba Hills SKP Resort to our apartment in the Northeast. We still explor as we travel, but take less time exploring, the hiking is more difficult or impossible for one of us and high altitude can be a curse. Our losses are less from changes in RVing than from changes in our bodies. We still enjoy a lovely boondocking site either with BW or BLM and we love great parks, off season. It is lovely to get into a park with many families and noisy children and to be able to leave before the weekend.

Stephanie
17 days ago

Ed R.: We have also learned to “adjust and adapt” which is how people deal with life changes and how success happens. “The Only Constant in Life Is Change.”- Heraclitus. I also like your mantra “Don’t count the days, make the days count”

Marie
17 days ago

Claude P: who are you to decide what is the correct way to camp? Some of us have health issues & can’t hike, have little kids who are having an off day and a kids movie helps, some sit inside when it’s pouring and watch TV. Some of us are seasonal & use a camper as a second home. If you’re in a tent or recreational vehicle, it IS camping.

Sam797
10 days ago
Reply to  Marie

Marie, I couldn’t agree more. This is just the judgmental side of people today… making decisions for others based on their own considerations. Bottom line is, YOU DO YOU! Whatever you need or want, you pay/use the same as the next guy. It’s yours to do with as you please. These idiots will find fault in anything/everything.

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