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Campground Crowding: ‘Every nook and cranny of the woods are full!’

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.

Only limitation is the holding tanks

Gary D. has invested in solar and lithium batteries to avoid campground crowding. He says, “No more crowded, over-priced RV parks for us. We gave up the reserve-only sites after investing in solar and lithium batteries. So far, it’s been relatively easy finding great boondocking spots in the Western states. We’ve stayed weeks at a time, very often free, at some of the most amazing spots with very few others nearby. We don’t need TV, Wi-Fi or cell phones, so that opens up even more opportunities. Our only limitation is holding tank capacity!”

Dry camp

Jesse C. is an advocate for dry camping. They explain, “We have a specific destination to go to, and 99% of the time it is dry. The only time we have used a campground is if we can’t get there in one day—usually an 8- to 10-hour drive. We have a 40′ DP and can dry camp for five days with 100 gals. of water and fuel. Plenty of grey/black storage.”

No ranger driving by

John W. likes to boondock. “We stay away from the pay sites and do BLM boondocking. Yes, sometimes getting a 30-foot pull behind in some of those areas can be a challenge, but it’s usually worth it when your nearest neighbor can’t hear or see you. You let the dogs smell and sniff without a leash, and no ticket-hungry park rangers driving by every 30 minutes looking for a reason to show authority.”

It’s worse than trying to get hot concert tickets!

What’s happening at recreation.gov? That’s what Andi D. wonders: “I could not get one camping reservation this year and I was trying to book as the minute changed to open for a weekday. It was worse than trying to get hot concert tickets. What is happening?! Are these sites being marked up and resold or what??”

Two sides to every tent story…

Sally E. shares why she’s a tent camper who books RV sites. She writes, “A word about tenters renting RV spots… My child is deaf but wears cochlear implants. Her rechargeable batteries have about 10 hours of service. They are really expensive and I won’t leave them overnight in the bathroom to charge. Would love a tent site with an electric outlet but they don’t exist. So I’ll keep using RV sites. I pay RV rates.”

And, on the other hand… Donna C. needs a long site but is frustrated by tent campers. She says, “We have a ‘big rig’ even though we are definitely not rich. We are just thinking of retirement. We have a very hard time finding long enough sites to park. Tents in RV sites is very aggravating.”

Even the most desolate places are full

Jewis G. has found even far-off places crowded. They explain, “Since Covid, I have found it extremely difficult to go camping in even the most desolate locations. It seems everyone and their mommies are camping in every nook and cranny of the woods imaginable. I personally go camping to escape human beings and fast-paced everyday life. Now, even when you find a campsite, it has been completely trashed and left absolutely disgusting like a landfill! People have no respect for Mother Nature and it’s honestly disheartening.

“If campgrounds continue to allow this overcrowding simply for financial gain, I will be forced to no longer support them and I will switch strictly to overland camping where the only way you will get to me is by an extremely, EXTREMELY built and fully capable 4WD vehicle. I have been a lifelong (30 years+) friend of the national/state/federal parks and lands and have donated many funds and many hours of my time to help because of my pure love of parks. However, if it keeps getting busier and busier, I will no longer.”

Advice from a camp host

Sandy P. is a camp host and has some good advice: “As a state forest camp host, here are my suggestions: Be flexible and patient, especially with the staff. Look for campgrounds with fewer amenities (get solar panels!). Remember that folks have until the next day to show up for a reserved site, often wanting to arrive the next morning after a work day, so don’t assume an empty site on Friday is a true no-show. Finally (but most importantly), KNOW the rules for the campground you choose and follow them! If you absolutely need to run a generator, don’t pull into a ‘quiet’ campground and get mad when you have to turn it 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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column: ‘We camp during the week, stay in motels on the weekends’

 FROM YESTERDAY’S NEWSLETTER 

Thief tries to siphon gas from RV, gets crappy surprise

When longtime RVtravel.com reader Gary Willey sent this to us (Thanks, Gary!) we thought it was a joke and we laughed out loud! But after a little digging, we found a news story from 2016 saying this actually really did happen to this couple in Australia. We quickly went from laughing to gagging! We almost feel bad for the guy… Oh, my!

##RVT1060

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Bob M
2 months ago

Camped at Worlds End State park last week. Most RV sites we’re taking on the week end, but during the week some sites were open. Host said they have problems with campers not showing up. Pulled into a camp ground in Erie, Pa yesterday/Mon and every campsite is filled. I make my reservations 9 months to a year ahead. One issue I noticed there Isn’t a lot of campsites allowing pets and they seem the ones to fill up fast. I have no problem with tent campers using the electric sites. After all everyone’s money is good and you don’t know some may have medical condition that requiring elect. I have a 33’ travel trailer.

Tom S
2 months ago

It’s wrong to just let your dogs run loose. Harassing wild animals is a crime in Colorado and other places.

C Walthour
2 months ago

I have found that many RV Owners will rent their RV for a week and that they are able to get the site location as well, so, the total pkg at a popular site on the map.

Kyle Petree
2 months ago

The summer of 2020 our favorite boondocking meadows in the National Forest were COMPLETELY overrun. We quit going…..and did find another less well known (and not as nice) an area to camp for the end of 2020 and through 2021.

We were in our “new” place over 4th of July weekend and were a bit suprised at how few folks were there. We decided to go drive through our favorite area – and low and behold – on Saturday before the 4th, it looked like it used to look on NON-HOLIDAY weekend!

We are estatic that we can now resume camping in our favorite area!

-Kyle

Leslie P
2 months ago

Since we sold our “big rig” a 40’ fifth wheel our full-time life has become so much easier. We have 1080 ah of solar so we can boondock anywhere for 10 days or more. Our tanks cause us to come into a RV or State Park. Just for a night and we move on. It’s made a huge difference for us and we can be patient to find a site for that single night. Being flexible and small has made all the difference.

Mark K
2 months ago

We were looking for a site in Gulpha Gorge CG in Hot Springs, Arkansas a couple years ago. There was one site open but the RV that pulled in right before us got it. We were talking to the camp host about getting a site when a tent camper heard us and said we could use their site with them and split the cost. There were four of them, two adults and two children. It rained heavily that night and we offered them to sleep in the RV, but they declined and slept in their tent. It was very gracious of those tent campers in an RV site to share it.

Herman
2 months ago

Tenters in RV sites: we have camped in our Class B with friends who must have electricity for a CPAC to safely sleep overnight. There are other reasons tenters must have electricity to camp.

Bill T
2 months ago

Thanks for posting the “advice from a camp host”. Sandy P. was spot on with common sense about being patient, flexible and knowing the rules. Serenity comes to those who stop worrying about things they have no control over and enjoy what they do have control of.