Wednesday, December 7, 2022


Campground Crowding: ‘You can’t enforce the 10-year rule when your park looks like junk, Pal!’


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.

Live and let live!

Kathleen’s sage advice below is so outstanding and one to remind myself of, particularly when the campsite is not up to my expectations or the odor of the chicken farm next door is wafting over. When it is easier to sometimes complain and think “woe is me,” this is a reminder to count blessings and embrace the adventure. I RV because I love RVing!

Kathleen A. writes, “The way I deal with crowded campgrounds is this: I deal with it. I keep my expectations in check, realizing that any problem I have with any place will be gone just like I will, within three weeks. I didn’t come out here and spend all this money on equipment and gas to be unhappy. Live and let live. Sure, sometimes a neighbor can be loud and irritating, but as my mother would have said, ‘Nothing is forever.’ If I wanted to be territorial and ultra-vigilant about my space, I would have stayed at home. I think staying in one place makes a human neurotic as heck so, I’m out here to relax, see new places, and feel alive. Not to stew in a mess of negative emotions. If a situation becomes truly untenable, I’ll turn the key and go.”

Photo credit Kathleen A
Photo credit: Kathleen A.

RV clubs are a good way to go

Mark W. is in an RV club and says, “We belong to a local RV club and have the opportunity to go out once a month to nearby RV resorts within 100 miles. The members take turns making reservations and setting up the arrangements and this works out very well for everyone who wants to attend. They even get group discounts (minimum 8 or 10 sites). And, we’ve never had any issues with the 10-year rule.

“The whole thing is that many of these RV park sites are so close together, so it definitely feels crowded because of space. Truthfully, to me, this isn’t camping. If you truly want a camping experience, go to the State or National Parks. Staying in an RV resort is no different than being in a hotel and you’re paying almost $100 per night at these feature-laden locations. Many times we don’t even use all the amenities… what’s the point?

“Make sure it works for you. I’d rather have the natural experience and beautiful surroundings with trails and scenery. There’s nothing scenic about staying in a glorified ‘trailer park’.”

Disrupted by Hurricane Fiona

Mark M.’s plans were disrupted by the hurricane but, despite that, he still had an excellent trip. He shares, “We had planned a two-month Maritimes trip that was disrupted by Hurricane Fiona. We had to reschedule everything… and quickly. Instead of Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island, we had to head west—first just to get out of the hurricane’s path, then to regroup and redefine.

“We canceled everything after Sept. 20—the ferry, campsites, concerts, and outings. We still had a wonderful trip, with some stress caused by the uncertainty. Sometimes finding sites as we went was a little challenging, but we put together an additional 5-week trip through Quebec and home through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and down Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge as we went to the Smokies, often with skimpy or no cell service. We always found a site, sometimes only a day or three in advance—provincial and state parks, national parks, Harvest Hosts/Boondockers Welcome, national forests, and a couple of private campgrounds, even late in the season when many began to close. They are usually out there, especially when you travel in the off-season.”

Ah, so that explains some “hold backs…”

Karen G. tells us about “hold backs”: “As a camp host at several state parks now, one reason for the empty sites you see (besides people reserving and not showing up!) is that parks ‘hold back’ 3-4 sites for emergencies, such as someone whose reservation was messed up or a camper unable to level on a particular spot.”

“Full-time hobos”

Sarah W. is disgruntled with the state parks and the people staying long-term. She writes, “Sites are always full. We have a 2018 Thor Axis and have had to boondock it several times en route somewhere because parks and so-called RV sites are filled up with full-time hobos. My spouse is 55 and I am in my 40s wanting to enjoy empty nest life a little bit. We hate hotels but are finding it easier to get a hotel than a place to camp nowadays. Holidays and when school is out, forget it. And then you have the full-time hobos hogging the state parks which are supposed to only let people stay a week at a time. If I wouldn’t lose money, I would sell my RV.”

Ten-year rule but the place is junk!

L B relates his experience at a “ten-year-rule” campground: “I am at a mobile home/campground in San Antonio, TX, for a week. When I was checking in, the office lady was on the phone asking someone how old their rig was, that it needed to be less than 10 years old, and explaining that added stairs would need to be approved first. Then we got set up and went for a walk around the park and guess what? More than half the RVs and mobile homes are so junky looking and there’s trash all over. Definitely no one is making the tenants keep their place looking clean and newer, so why all the talk about less than 10 years old and whatever needing to be approved? This is not the first place I’ve seen this happen, and I don’t get it.”

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 here.

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22 days ago

Had a 2004 38’ Alpine pusher that was spotless and always looked very nice. Most of the time I just made a reservation and never mentioned age. If asked on reservation I just made it 10 yrs old. Never pulled in and had anyone say I think your coach is more than 10 yrs old. Many are staffed by people who don’t know the difference between a 5th wheel and a motor home at times. As others have said been in lots of campgrounds with that rule with campers that were bought new and haven’t seen soap and water in 10 years

23 days ago

They want you to buy a new RV every 10 years? No thanks.

20 days ago
Reply to  JAMES

The ones built today probably aren’t going to last much longer than that anyway…

23 days ago

There’s a RV Park on the outskirts of Las Vegas that I drove through in my car that looked like junk that has a 10 year rule!?

Marybeth Almand
24 days ago

We’re starting to feel the pinch of the 10 year old rule in the Portland, OR area. We fulltime in a well maintained, 2004 Arctic Fox fifth wheel and tow it with a like new, 2016 3500 Silverado. Nearly every place we looked at had that rule. No exceptions. The catch is, those places have been gobbled up by large corporations who don’t care about you, or your attention to your rig. No exceptions! Try to find a privately owned, mom and pop place. They tend to use common sense.

Blaine Campbell
18 days ago

I’ve never even heard of that in Manitoba Canada . As a Canuck I find that rule appalling . Gentrification hits the rural areas .

24 days ago

I think Sarah W. doth protest too much. Fulltimers don’t fit the term “hobo” at all. A hobo travels from place to place looking for a way to earn a little money and maybe get a free meal. State parks usually have the most strict time limits. Most of the SP we’ve stayed at have a two week limit, some have an “out of park policy” so you couldn’t If the park is full maybe you need a plan “B” or be better at planning or choose another area with a bit less camping pressure..

23 days ago
Reply to  MrDisaster

Yesss! But people are reserving a given site and then rolling it over into their wife’s or husbands name. After that it’s in their kids name, and maybe the family dog, which has been dead for ten years. Point being! the state doesn’t enforce their own rules. Ive seen a given camper on the same site for months at a time. (And know their not working at the park) It’s not fair to the rest of us who can only squeeze in a few weekends if we’re lucky. Oh! I’m only referring to the great state of New York 🙁

24 days ago

Seems the 10 year rule only applies people who are traveling. We have stayed in campgrounds with seasonal or permanent sites that look like homeless encampments. Old, dilapidated trailers that are falling apart and trash and junk all over the sites that don’t appear to be getting used at all.

24 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Yes, the permanent residents are old friends, and they don’t want to evict them or confront them, so they try to raise their standards by being tough on travelers. Same with site rents, keep them low for old friends, gouge the stranger.

What’s particularly laughable are the ones with grungy permanent trailers coated with green or black mold, with a firm ‘you may not wash your rig in our park’ in their list of rules. Okay, how’s that working for you?

Thomas D
24 days ago
Reply to  wanderer

Thats why we have a park model in Tucson. No mold. We were in Louisiana for 2weeks. My white rv turned green.

Glenda Alexander
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Actually, the 10-year rule may apply to those of us who live in our rigs full time but do not travel full time. I have a 2001 Lazy Daze motor home (a five-star-rated unit), which I keep well maintained, but I was denied a permanent site at nearly every RV park I called. Happily, I found a place at Escapees CARE.

Bob p
24 days ago

If it’s well maintained and doesn’t look 22 years old fib!

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