Monday, December 5, 2022


Campground Crowding: Wealthy campers have a secret: They’ll pay to not have neighbors


RV sales have skyrocketed and more people than ever are taking up RVing. The result is some 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.

Getting around the problem

Brian S. has been hit with the 10-year rule and is doing something about it! He explains, “My problem is that when you call to make a reservation, they ask how old the rig is and they give us nothing more than 10 years. I’m proud of my rig! It’s a 1995, but in showroom condition. I just purchased acreage and will be making a loop around the property with each site being accessible to drive through. It is near several National Park attractions. It’s boondocking: no trash bins, no power or sewer, and in a place where it’s not unusual to have wild horses or elk come through. When the first one is built, I will start doing the same thing in other states. By the way, any RV is allowed. There will be no monthlies!”

Years-long waiting lists—ridiculous!

Stacey C. has been trying to get a seasonal site. She writes, “I have been looking for a seasonal campground for more than two years. There is a years-long waiting list. It is ridiculous.”

Similarly, Stanley B. has been on a waiting list for a long time, too. He writes, “Just short and sweet! Example: I’ve been on a waiting list for one particular campground in Phoenix, Arizona, for 2.5 years and waiting! The campground is full! Also, my pull trailer is in excellent shape and self-contained but was made by Keystone in 2005. No matter how it looks, I’ve been turned down in RV parks where I want to stay long-term/monthly! I’m out of luck!”

Campground sign says full… but it’s not!

Sandra P. knows planning is key: “We recently stayed at three Colorado State Parks a week plus at each. All posted ‘Campground Full’ signs but we never saw the campgrounds full. I’m not sure if they just don’t want to deal with walk-ins or don’t have the staff to facilitate a truly full campground.

“We have found that planning is key… we are already planning 2023 and waiting for reservation windows to open. Some private parks have window restrictions too; some open on January 1 and others have a sliding window or number of days prior to visit restriction. Private/membership campgrounds are the same in some cases.

“I prefer using the web but have found sometimes a phone call is best when the web dates are too far out to show availability. The downside is that you have money tied up for quite some time especially when some are paid in full to reserve. I’m also finding more no refund or 25% forfeiture regardless of how far out you cancel. One reason I like the group that starts with K… we have canceled or rearranged and NEVER lost a dime.”

Go home!

Gwen D. is not too fond of RVers. Yikes… They write, “I live next door to an RV site. I am 75 years young. Most RV folks are rude and don’t care. They empty grey water and they are loud. I am woken up by the banging of doors, dogs, etc. Be considerate. My dogs are wireless collared. I hate you RVers. Go home.”

Never camping again in California

Dianne L. is done with California. Here’s why: “I have simply made up my mind not to even ATTEMPT to camp in California anymore. I’m old and had the good fortune to be able to visit state parks, national parks, and coastal campgrounds (my favorite) most of my life. I can no longer afford to camp in California, and the overcrowding, lack of respect for our parks, and bad behavior of SO many people have made me not even want to try. As far as other nearby states, I believe I’d be OK as long as I never go during the summer months, on holiday weekends, or anytime school is out. While recovering from some major back surgery, I am hopeful that I’ll still be able to travel. Then off to eastern Oregon I go!”

Campgrounds into trailer parks

Wow! Sam S. sure camped a lot this summer! They write, “I camped in 32 different campgrounds this summer. My average stay was four days. I get people wanting weekly, and maybe monthly stays at a campground but that is not what I saw. ‘Campgrounds’ are turning into trailer parks and they need to call them so. 50% or more of the trailers in the ‘campgrounds’ that had long-term tenants have never moved and are probably incapable of moving. Owners can do as they wish… but let’s be honest.”

Electric meter coming soon?

Rosanne D. is noticing that every site has an electric meter now: “We are in a north Texas KOA Journey campground. This was an old all-gravel campground until a couple of years ago when an RV dealer bought the land, built a new ‘super store,’ and upgraded the campground. What is interesting to us is that every site now has an electric meter. It seems obvious this campground is set up for long-term stays. We are full-timers so while we are not bothered by this we do wonder how soon short-term sites here will be requiring a $200.00 electric meter deposit. That would bother us!”

Are wealthy people booking the sites around them?

Joel M. sees every site is reserved and wonders: Are they just for one person? “I know several very wealthy people that book all the campsites around them so they don’t have anyone next to them. Most of my stays at state campgrounds are usually about 25% empty all night. We check for cancellations to stay longer and every site is reserved. We have better luck off-season… if you can tolerate the weather in the Pacific Northwest.”

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: There’s a new breed of camper on the loose: Selfish

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27 days ago

Come to Tennessee or georgia. Very nice camp grounds. Very cheap. For tent or campers. I never had. Bad experience with camp grounds.

Last edited 27 days ago by Chris
Donald N Wright
27 days ago

I have been blessed this last season with campgrounds rarely full. I have visited some “packed like Sardines” campgrounds I wish I could of afforded to rent the site next to mine for some privacy.

28 days ago

I think a lot depends on which part of the country you are traveling to. I’ve witnessed a lot of full time campers in Missouri parks. Most are really nice people. But it is frustrating when you are just wanting a holiday and the place is at capacity with full timers. I used to love camping as a kid. I am not enjoying the crowded conditions now at all. The full time people are ruining the state and federal parks.

28 days ago

We have been traveling across the country, Northeast to Southwest this fall. I have not had a problem getting a campsite anyplace I have wanted. Some stays are 3 or 4 nights many are 1 night. Most reservations have been made no more than a week in advance. Currently staying in Monahans Sandhill State Park TX, just drove in a got a site. I think the real secret is I’m not looking for very popular sites in high season. As full timers we are off the road in the summer and much of the winter we are in an Escapee Coop, Jojoba Hills SKP Resort in SoCal. There was a waiting list to get in and there is one now.

Andrew R.
27 days ago
Reply to  Paul

We spent the month of November in Jojoba Hills one year, it’s a great park with a real sense of community. Love to get back there some day…

Last edited 27 days ago by Andrew R.
Cathy Stover
28 days ago

If the wealthy people dont want neighbors, buy some land somewhere and become hermits? That is ridiculous that this even allowed!! People that arent wealthy still want to camp and dont think we are so special that we cant have neighbors!!!

24 days ago
Reply to  Cathy Stover

I think the whine that wealthy campers rent all the sites around the is BS or at the very least minor. Most people who have issues with availability are wanting to camp at the big time attractions and during peak season. We have only had issues at this time or in popular locations. Learn to work within the system, as it’s not going to change.

28 days ago

I’m curious why Gwen D. Is even reading RVTravel. Since you don’t like RV’ers, why are you living next to a campground? “Go home”? LOL people are camping. In a campground. It’s what RV’ers do. For some, their RV IS their home.

28 days ago

Society is getting stupid and humans are becoming increasingly dumb to this article is proof.

28 days ago
Reply to  Mike

Yes. This is a true statement.

Bob M
28 days ago

I can see campgrounds putting in electric meters in the near future. PPL electric in Pa keeps raising their rates. My electricity for my campsite this year has risen drastically this year for part time use.

28 days ago

Dianne L, if you can’t afford to camp at a CG of your choosing in California, who’s problem is that? From your comments, you have previously camped in California but can no longer afford it, right. Thus, the reason for bashing California. Of course, Easter Oregon will be more affordable, it certainly isn’t California.

Gwen D, I get that you are not fond of RV’ers, why do read this website? Do you converse with the RV’ers at their campsite or at you home to distinguish their rudeness? Only grey water being dumped, can you see okay through your binoculars, lol.

28 days ago

In response to Sandra P’s observation that Colorado campground are declared full even when they are not. CPW uses the despicable 100% reservation system for all their parks. The result is zero chance of getting a first-come-first-served site and many sites that were reserved but never utilized. The penalty for not showing up for your reserved site? Nada. CPW gets all their money and doesn’t have to expend money on someone on scene to manage the sites. Unfortunately other entities like my New Mexico and National Parks like the 100% reservation system and are switching to it as well. Governments have never been about customer service.

28 days ago
Reply to  Bill

We get this with lots of tent sites in NC. People love to come in, mark a site or 3 and then not even bother to show. I’ve seen campgrounds almost empty on the 4th of July because it rained early and the folks didn’t bother to show.

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