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.
This week it is all about the readers who are not having a problem finding sites, even at the last minute. This is good news!
No issues with campground crowding
Rick S. has not had any issues this year finding places to stay. He explains, “Maybe I’m not seeing the problem. We don’t stay at state or government campgrounds and with the ability to make reservations online, we have not had any issues. Currently in the middle of a 5,000-mile trip into the northern U.S. and Canada and haven’t had any issues. 39 stops over four months. Maybe folks that want cheap or free camping are having issues but we are having a ball.”
A reader who goes by TH also had great luck and wrote, “We haven’t had any problems yet. Maybe just lucky. Booked about 15 campsites in Alaska, British Columbia, and Seattle, but we also do plenty of dry camping and boondocking. On a 10-week trip right now.”
Diane B. camps midweek and avoids the weekends. She says, “We can no longer camp on weekends as every campground is booked. We now only camp on weekdays and have not had a problem finding a site. We are retired and find the availability and less crowded campgrounds very relaxing. Plus, the rates are cheaper Sunday night through Friday morning.”
RV rental companies taking up spaces, too
Neil M. writes about RV companies placing rental units right on the campsite. “We camp mostly in Arizona’s national forest dry camping. The last 10 years have had a huge influx of campers and now we leave for the woods midweek. There are now RV rentals who will put your RV on a campsite ahead of time so you have a place to go.”
Tent camping in electric site—been there/done that
Several weeks ago a reader was disgruntled about tents using up electric sites in campgrounds. Les C. tells us about his experience tent camping: “Before we could afford an RV we would tent camp in an electric hookup site in state parks. But I would bring an apartment size refrigerator to keep food in and a fan or two to make the tent more bearable. As long as they are using smaller sites I have no problem with them. We have been there ourselves.”
It matters where you travel
Neal D. was able to get a site just three days out. He explains, “Our new RV was delayed several days in quality control at Newmar, putting our plans to travel 700 miles to the dealer (they represented Newmar at the Tampa Super Show, hence our purchase with them) on hold. Three days ago we got a call that it had finally arrived at the dealer. Suddenly, we needed two nights of full hook-ups to finish preparing our current one for trade, and to finish testing the new one before departing Florida for a Newmar rally in Wyoming a few days later. We had several choices within two hours of the dealership that fit our current 43′ DP and made our reservations three days out. Guess it matters a lot when you choose to travel as well as where.”
Never been turned down due to campground crowding
Barbara B. finds the campground nearby and calls to check availability. She says, “We’ve been full-time for 11 years and I never know when we’re leaving our current place. When we’re done traveling I look up campgrounds near me and call. I’ve never been turned down.”
Always find a place to stay
Dennis G. never books ahead more than a couple of days. “We spent three months traveling cross-country all the way to Bar Harbor, Maine, last year and never booked more than a couple days in advance, usually booking on weekdays. I use RV Trip Wizard exclusively to plan and look at reviews. I also write my own reviews, which have been viewed more than 8,000 times to date. I can ALWAYS find a place to stay overnight. I look for FHU’s every three or four days to dump, but otherwise, I find sites with electric and water only. Other secrets? Join the RV discount clubs and forget KOA unless you actually use all the perks or have kids. I always call the park directly. Reserve America is killing camping, in my opinion.”
Zero problems finding site at the spur of the moment
Karyn C. has no problem finding sites on the fly. She says, “I have done two huge trips from the West Coast to the Southern and Southeastern states this year. First trip was late February through late April. I had zero problems finding state, county and city RV parking at the spur of the moment. I do tend to overnight at Loves Truck stops when I just need a few hours of sleep because most have RV dump stations, potable water refill and fenced-off dog play areas, and I travel with dogs. For layovers of more than a few hours of sleep, I like state parks, county parks, etc., over private parks, as most are more dog-friendly. I did a second trip late May—late June from Washington to Michigan, then N. Carolina, then Kansas, then Colorado, and again had no issues finding reservable state parks on the fly.”
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 Crowded Campgrounds column: RVers cheat the system, use different names to book prime sites
I full time. We spend about 1-2 weeks in each campground. I have to make my reservations about 2-3 months ahead not because they are full everyday but because they are full on weekends. I can easily make a Mon thru Fri reservation but as soon as I add the weekend, it’s packed.
What I’ve noticed is that people are gathering with their friends and family more and more in campgrounds. Used to be backyard gatherings were the thing but after Covid getting out of the city is the cool thing to do.
A month ago I was at the Boise, ID KOA and asked the workers if they were seeing less people coming in and their response was for every reservation that gets canceled due to gas prices, etc, another reservation is made to take it’s place. During the week there were empty spots but by Friday night it was completely full.
I still maintain the over crowding is mainly at the high tourist areas, this has been a problem when I started camping in 1978 so really not much difference. If you can set up camp 40-50 miles away, you’ll find plenty of spots, yes you will have to drive several miles to enjoy the crowds but your camping experience will be better.
Just because there has been a LOT of RV’s sold in the last 3 years still does not mean all those newbies have a the time and resources to go “Glamping”.
How many times a year does the “Average” RV owner actually go camping?
A lot less than one might think. If that number is more 3 “I” would be surprised!
The “New” for many of these new RV owners is wearing off quickly yet the payments keep coming!
Therefore Mr. and Mrs. New RV Owner how big a LOSS are you willing to take to git rid another Dream gone wrong????
If campers have complaints with Reserve America. They need to send complaints to the state agency that runs the campground. If enough people complain then maybe Reserve America will be forced to change.
We are working at a full hookup campground near Branson MO. We had a full campground on The Memorial day weekend but since then we have always had open spaces even on the 4th of July.
How long are they staying at each site? It would be interesting to know how difficult it is to find a camp site for 4+ days versus just one night. I am sure finding a site for one night wouldn’t be hard but I doubt it would as easy finding a site for 4+ days.