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.
Every time is “busy time” due to campground crowding
Mary E. didn’t travel much during COVID and is now finding all the best sites are booked. She explains, “We did only one short trip last year due to COVID. This year we were back to our 5- to 6-week camping trip where we visited family across the country in our motorhome. It was no fun. You had to make reservations in advance and often found that the good sites were all taken. We downsized four years ago and loved getting patio sites so we could be outside. None available. All campgrounds were at capacity and the non-patio sites are one on top of the other so no ability to enjoy your space. Think this is it for us. Had been traveling via motorhome since ’98. We waited to travel until the end of August to ‘avoid busy time’ but it didn’t work.”
“Don’t have $500 to shell out a year early”
Ken P. is getting up at midnight to book a site. He says, “Stop people from booking over one week. Let other people use the park. For Arizona state parks you have to get up at midnight to try and get a site a year in advance. You also have to pay in full a year ahead of time. A lot of people don’t have $500 to shell out a year early.”
Mississippi State Parks’ reasonable cancellation policy
Irv K. writes to us about Mississippi’s cancellation policy. “Mississippi State Parks has a reasonable cancellation policy:
- Pay 100% upfront.
- Cancel more than a week ahead and get a refund as a voucher good for two years minus a $10 cancellation fee.
- Cancel within less than a week and get a 50% voucher good for one year.”
Manya N. has some helpful tips to deal with campground crowding from their last trip: “Just returned from four days of spontaneous camping. Tips I followed:
- Arriving earlier than other campers has worked for me.
- Not second-guessing myself and taking the site vs. driving around and losing any site.
- Be flexible.
- Solo camp if you can. No one to disappoint…
- STAY UPBEAT!”
Not giving up yet
Mike G. is camping in late September and manages to have found a site right on the coast. He explains, “It seems our favorite Oregon coast campground is not so crowded, but we camp in late September and about 1/3 of the kids are back to school.
“We did notice a steady in-and-out of one-nighters to the campground, and the park maintenance is lacking a little. It was still good to see some large families out enjoying nature and being able to camp next to each other.
“To book a park takes a little more planning with more people wanting sites too. But we are not giving it up yet.”
Enjoy the adventure while you can
Jerry S. gives kudos to his wife’s reservation skills. “My wife is a master at reservations! It takes time and determination; she always comes through. She uses several different apps in her quest. In my opinion, camping and full-time living are totally different. We sold our sticks and bricks and bought as big an RV as we could afford to live comfortably on the road. We started our adventure on June 26, 2021. The learning curve is steep and brutal at times! The full-time community is our extended family!!! We have many friends that will help us in any way they can! Full-timing is not for everyone. Take your family camping and enjoy the adventure while you can.”
Just roll with it
Sue F. always finds a site but has learned to roll with it when it is not the perfect site. “We rarely have an issue reserving a campsite. I am from Ontario and always camp in provincial parks. We may not get the site or even the park we prefer, but we always get something. We are not as picky as we used to be and if our site happens to be less than ideal we just roll with it.
“As for full payment in advance, I have no issue with this. The penalty for canceling increases in Ontario parks the longer you have it reserved. For example, canceling four months after reserving will cost you 50% plus a cancellation fee. This may discourage some from reserving more than they intend on using, thus freeing up sites for others.”
The early bird catches the worm
Ronald H. full-times with 70 feet of “house and garage” and needs to book early. “Not only do I take my house with me, but I also took the garage, too! 45-foot bus and 25-foot trailer. This is my full-time residence for six years. Camping is closely related to tenting. Not my cup of tea. I travel. I am booking my stays 6-8 months ahead. So far, so good. I also willingly pay extra for the ‘better’ sites. In order to get a site when you want it, you have to make the extra effort of planning ahead. With the additional hundreds of thousands of RVers added during the past several years, there is no other choice. The early bird catches the worm. For most people, spontaneous ‘camping’ is no longer an option.”
Trash bins of humanity?
Cindy S. has some pretty strong words about campgrounds allowing permanent full-timers. She writes, “There would be less crowding if campground owners stopped being semi-trailer parks while pretending they are campgrounds. Most of those allowing full-time live-in campers turn into trash bins of humanity and who then wants to use their facility?”
Now, some questions for you:
- What are your thoughts on campgrounds allowing permanent full-time campers?
- 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: More extreme weather will alter course of reservations