Saturday, September 30, 2023


Campground Crowding: ‘Truck stops are more inviting than some campgrounds!’

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.

Is a truck stop more inviting than a campground?

David N. has stayed in some RV parks lately that make truck stops look good. He writes, “After full-timing for a couple of years we have been able to find sites, just not as many. We have a Bounder 39Z with a toad. Campground owners need to up their game a bit, like not putting an 18-footer in an 80-foot site.

“We have stayed in campgrounds that make a night at a truck stop more inviting. Some you lose and some you don’t. You’ve got to roll with the punches or boondock.”

Real freedom in a beautiful country

Marcus T. writes about finding freedom with his truck camper despite reported campground crowding: “I’ve got a light truck camper (1,800 lbs.) on a 3/4 ton 4×4 truck. Don’t need no stinking campgrounds! The Good Lord blessed me with solar, Bluetti Power and a gas generator. I go anywhere that suits us and my friends. Real freedom in a beautiful country…”

Jay K. also has a truck camper and campgrounds feel like subdivisions to him. “We have a nice truck camper. When we stay in a prepared campground, it is more akin to moving into a crowded subdivision. You are packed in, and in a lot of instances, an RV arrives, the main engine is shut down, the generator comes on and you never see the occupants. Much like the subdivisions, they are escaping ‘Into the wild’.”

“Be a little more courteous”

Dan A. uses their RV as a replacement for hotel rooms but sees a lot of clueless campers. He explains, “I have been camping since 1989. We have always booked camping spots in advance. Lately, we have been able to get good spots six months in advance. We have only stayed in state parks a couple of times while traveling, but only booked a few hours before we got there.

“Our primary use of our RV is a replacement for nasty motel rooms at the places we enjoy going to. Usually a beach campground, Myrtle Beach and Pensacola have been our favorites.

“That being said, I think a lot of the new folks camping started doing it because of the pandemic lockdowns and staying spaced apart from other people. Also, along with new folks are folks that never experienced camping before. As such they are not educated on the things that you have to do without some luxuries and or camping etiquette.

“Walking your dog to the neighbors’ spot to let them do their business is pretty rude, in my opinion. I never have done that and I don’t think anyone should. The world isn’t your personal bathroom. Another is trash left behind. Clean up after yourselves, it’s not a hard task. Leave your trash where it is supposed to be in your campground rules list.

“On the beaches, please don’t walk away from the 3-foot-deep hole you just made in the sand, fill it back in. Sometimes night walkers on a beach fall into them and have had serious injuries. I think everyone needs to try to be a little more courteous to their neighbor campers.”

Confused by RVers’ expectations

Joe D. knows advanced planning is essential due to campground crowding and writes, “I’m confused by the expectations of many RVers. Would you expect to be able to walk up to the reservations desk at a resort hotel in a popular tourist area and find rooms available? Probably not. RV parks in these areas operate in a similar fashion. Advance planning is essential to get accommodations in highly popular areas during a peak season.”

Love their life but sorry for the next generation

Jim H. feels sorry for the next generation. He says, “My wife and I sold everything we owned seven years ago to travel full time. We started in a 36-ft. 5th wheel and now have a 20-ft. trailer. The smaller trailer allows us to dry camp and get into smaller campsites. We love our life and never looked back. Six full years on the road never made reservations. Only once in Napa Valley did we get turned down because they were full. That campground actually called another campground to get us in there. It was a better campground at a third the price.

“Flash forward and it is a different story. Not only can we not find campgrounds, but we can’t even get down on the beaches of Texas to dry camp as they also are overcrowded. Then if you do get into a campsite the newbies have no idea of what they are doing. They don’t respect quiet time or your campsite security. We are waiting till late fall to start traveling again. We hope that many families will stay home as school will start. If things don’t change this season we are done traveling. The sad part of this story is the next generation of campers will never experience living in an RV as we have.”

Flexibility is the key

Val C. uses a variety of sources for finding sites. “Maybe I’ve been lucky but I’ve not had any problems finding a spot to camp/park for at least 2-3 nights at a time. I use a variety of types, i.e., Escapees parks, Harvest Hosts, truck stops, ‘moochdocking’, military famcamps, rest areas, etc. Flexibility is the key!”

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: Reader says RV parks becoming ‘trash bins of humanity’

Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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1 year ago

We just did a three week road trip in July from CA to NY. I used a mapping app that let me find the campgrounds that I wanted, like KOA, Goodsam, Coast to Coast, etc. and then call for reservations. We planned this about two weeks before we left and had zero issues. Some places you have to be flexible like taking the no sewer spot and using the dump instead of full hookups.

Donald N Wright
1 year ago

It is an adventure out there, I am still puzzled by people who live near campgrounds and use them, but will not travel elsewhere.

1 year ago

wow. expanding on your theory of rvers not using rest areas – then rvers, and all non-commercial drivers, should not use the roads because they interfere with commercial truckers.
I appreciate truckers and the service they provide to my ‘community’. the solution isn’t to limit public access to public goods. i would support paying an additional gas tax to fund commercial only rest areas

1 year ago

Since common sense isn’t that common any more, perhaps we should rename REST areas to POTTY BREAK-PICNIC area. And TRUCK stops: well seems that should be self-explanatory, but then again…

1 year ago
Reply to  Pursuits

I agree, give the truckers the space for the mandated stop periods. If we, the rv travelers, need to stop for a potty break, leg stretch or a bathroom break, park in an out of the way spot for a break, not to camp

Jerry Plante
1 year ago

Have you noticed the number of trucks parked on on-ramps and off-ramps? Do you know why? Because the government in it’s infinite wisdom changed the rest time rules of OTR truckers and implemented an electronic snitch box system that ensures they actually stop. They did not, however, increase the number of rest areas. So if a trucker is coming up on his/her rest time and pulls into a truck stop or rest area only to find them loaded up with RVers too lazy to find a campground, they have no choice. Continuing to the next possible rest area means a big fine, possibly big enough to wipe out any money they make on the run.

Want a free place to stay overnight virtually anywhere? Join Boondockers Welcome or Harvest Hosts. Way nicer than a truck stop and it doesn’t smell like urine. Like Tommy said, truckers have enough troubles.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Plante

Take your unhinged conspiracy theories elsewhere.

Wayne C
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron

Try driving a truck over the road following DOT rules for one week and then come back and tell us about the “conspiracy theory’s”

1 year ago
Reply to  Ron

This must be the next “Ron” cut & paste standard response since I’ve seen it twice already today.

Not sure what “conspiracy theory” has to do with funding adequate rest stops. I know I haven’t witnessed new ones under construction to support truckers. Perhaps Ron has a list of all the new rest areas he can share with us.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ron

This statement of contempt for others illustrates part of the problem. Simply insulting the other guy isn’t how we used to talk things over with one another.

1 year ago
Reply to  Ron

Ahh! now hard cold facts have become “unhinged conspiracy theories”.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Plante

Absolutely true. Great post

Randy Gartner
1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Plante

Agree Jerry. If we use a rest area, it’s normally during the day to nap for an hour or so.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jerry Plante

Jerry, I hear you and I have a lot of sympathy for the demands on truckers as both my wife and I have numerous close relatives on the road trucking.

That said, truckers don’t own public rest areas and don’t have sole usage rights. Truck stop owners have the right to decide on who can park on their lots.

Perhaps, as you said, there should be funding for additional “commercial truck only” parking areas to support the mandatory rest rules.

Tommy Molnar
1 year ago

We stay waaaay in the back of a truck stop in Wells, NV where no trucks park (next to the RR tracks in the weeds). In the morning there are always a couple more RV’ers who parked there because they saw us (I’m assuming). It’s a simple “spend the night” spot. If you like (or at least don’t mind) trains it’s great. Chuck, drive on by – ha.

Otherwise, truck stops are out. Truckers have enough trouble trying to find places to park.

Bob p
1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Amen to your last statement, truckers are required to take a mandatory 10 hr break and can’t just pull into a big box store for their break because of their weight. They must use the truck stops where the pavement is designed to support their weight. I once had a delivery at a farm and ranch store in St.Louis, calling ahead for directions I also asked if I could park somewhere of to the side of the facility as I would be arriving after they closed. “Of course, just park on the edge of the parking lot next to the stables”. The next morning I had to use 1st gear to pull out of the 18 depressions under my tires, their parking lot was fairly new asphalt, I told the stable manager he shrugged his shoulders and said that’s where they told you to park. Lol

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