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.
Older computer can’t keep up with the “bots”
Sandra D. laments the computer programs that book all the sites. She says, “Our state books sites six months in advance and I need to do that to have even a hope of getting a good spot, let alone a favorite spot. Yes, that causes problems with unforeseen last-minute things that crop up like an illness, family emergency or vacations being changed by employers. We are retired and camp about two weeks each month from May through October, and we have taken the financial penalty several times this year due to funerals and unexpected medical tests, even if we are canceling just one day of a 15-day reservation.
“This bothers me far less than groups that use computer programs to book spots, though. Those programs are much faster than I can be on our older computer, and I cannot tell you how often I have gotten up early to make a list of camp spots that are still available, pushed the “Reserve” button on my computer for my preferred spot right as the time changes to the earliest time possible to reserve, only to have every single spot I had on my list show up as already taken. Last year it took me four months of doing that to get a mediocre site at the campground I was booking. We wanted to go in May, and we couldn’t get a site until September in a campground with a couple hundred spots.”
A campground to know about
Carolyn M. is sharing a hidden campground with us: “I have been camp hosting for 12 years. All of this is very true. Most county campgrounds are non-reservation. I advertise every year that the Guler County campground at Trout Lake, WA, is non-reservation. We have 43 open sites. Opened 7 months, has only 9 electrical sites, flush toilets, water on every site and showers. Close to a tiny town. Lots of wildlife and the best huckleberry picking in the NW, with a close-up view of Mt. Adams. Prices are $15 and $8 with a senior discount of $2 less. Lots of hiking trails and lakes nearby.”
Book a year in advance
Not booking your sites a year in advance? Connie S. reminds you to. She says, “Yes, I am finding more and more campsites booked early. We do an annual fishing trip and we NOW must book a year in advance. This has affected our RVing.”
Costs are getting prohibitive
Bob S. is used to booking early but costs are going up, up, up! Bob says, “We tend to stay in traditional full-hookup RV parks and we stay at each destination one month or more. We plan 6 to 12 months ahead and don’t have too much trouble finding a spot. But the costs are getting prohibitive at popular destinations. My wife is already retired and I was going to retire this year, but our wonderful RV lifestyle is a bit too costly. So I will continue to work. My wife got a summer job and we are renting out our house while we are gone this summer, all to offset some of our RVing expenses. I certainly do not blame anyone for joining this lifestyle, but I do wish we had more supply and less demand so the costs would be more affordable.”
We miss the old days
Val Q. misses the old days when you only had trouble finding spots on holiday weekends. “We had high hopes that 2022 would be better than last year when it came to booking, but nope! Tried to book a midweek stay for the beginning of June a month in advance at a large campground chain near our destination up north and was told that they had nothing that could accommodate our length RV (35′ with car in tow). Finally found an available site an hour from our destination. We miss the old days when the only trips that had to be booked way in advance were for holiday weekends!”
In other news… “What campground crowding?”
Campground crowding? Huh? Where? Paul G. wonders where the campground crowding is. He writes, “We are presently a third of the way across the U.S. eastbound. I have not had any problem getting a place to stay for one or two nights as we make our way east. I had one park, Pioneer RV Park in Phoenix, agree to shift my arrival back a day because I had extra time in service. With only two days’ notice they honored my reservation for a day later. Other parks as we travel along I-40 have had nice sites available for us at reasonable prices. Most of these are not destinations at the present time. We have also stayed at an Elks Lodge and tomorrow will be a Boondockers Welcome. What campground overcrowding?”
Call the campground to task
Randy C. expects the campground to enforce their rules. “If a campground has a written policy about noise and quiet hours that they don’t enforce, I have left and received a refund even though they had a no-refund policy. If I stay at a campground, I follow the rules. That is part of the agreement, but it is two-way. I book campgrounds and RV resorts based on those policies and if they violate their own policies, I call them to task on it.”
Crowding in the marinas, too!
Dewey P. was a boater and saw crowding there, too. “While I don’t camp, I once was a boater (think 36′ with multiple bunks and facilities). We got out in ’08 due to the crowding in the marinas at that time. Camping was an alternate thought we had, but we decided that the crowding, not to mention the people, were enough to put us off.”
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.
Read last week’s Campground Crowding: Reader shares a very humbling reminder