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Campground Crowding: ‘If camping looks the same in 2023, we quit!’

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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, RVtravel.com 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.

Membership guarantee? Nope

April B. is out of her campground membership money. She explains, “My husband and I purchased our first RV in 2020, so we are new to the game. However, we fell for the Sound Pacific Resorts membership for $3,000 that was supposed to guarantee us a place to camp with full hookups at any of their parks. We got to stay one time. Other than that it was boondocking as an option. The campgrounds were overcrowded with displaced individuals from the fires, so full-timers couldn’t even sit outside and enjoy a fire without smelling marijuana smoke or hearing foul language. We clearly did not renew and we were out the money. We have a difficult time finding even county park availability. Everywhere is booked solid. We won’t give up, though, since our RV is our home away from home – our vacation spot. We will keep trying.” [Editor: Here is a link to Sound Pacific Resorts on the Better Business Bureau website. Caveat emptor.]

Ridiculously priced

Maggie S. has found out that camping prices are high: “I’m new to the camping world and I already learned that many campgrounds are ridiculously priced. These people are not renting apartments but a very small piece of land. Many are overcrowded and it’s a long wait for the seasonal spots, but I find it’s easier in the south to find a space.”

Sold to a corporation and now it looks like an overgrown trailer park

Bryan S. notices the difference when a park is sold to a corporation. He says, “For many years we went to Drummer Boy campground in Gettysburg, PA. It was privately owned and then was sold to a corporate company. Since then it looks like an overcrowded trailer park with junk everywhere. We don’t go there any longer, which is so sad as it used to be very nice.”

I’m no hobo!

David N. is not a hobo! “The lady talking about full-time hobos probably needs to sell the RV and stay in hotels! We have parked next to million-dollar rigs in our 2000 Bounder and are not too impressed with all the new gadgets on board. Our 2000 Bounder diesel pusher is kept up nicely and is a great girl. She’s stayed in resorts and truck stops, boondocked, state parks, etc. We prefer 55+ parks and listened to stories about how much this costs and that costs, still not impressed! People should live and let live and just enjoy it and if they don’t, then quit camping and sell their rig.”

Pay less than $20 a night!

Thomas E. has years of camping experience and knows to plan ahead. “My wife and I are boomers. I have over 60 years of campground memories, both tent camping and RVing. We are not RV resort campers. We stay months at a time at RV campgrounds, paying less than $20/night for that privilege. No pool. No hot tub. Under trees. Near kayaking and bike trails and hiking. And no 55+ parks. Because of our choice of camping experience, neither tent or RV camping has changed. Sure we reserve as much as a year in advance to get the sites we want or need for our two-bedroom 5th wheel. And because of our planning, there is NO overcrowding, just campgrounds filled mostly with happy campers, like us, of all ages.”

If it’s the same in 2023, will call it quits

Evelyn V. has noticed the change in getting campsites: “First 12-month RV trip in 2018 was outstanding. Started another RV trip on 4/1/22 and can say this trip has been frustrating because of getting reservations, getting into National Parks and general overcrowding in most areas. We had to skip some National Parks for lack of accommodations. We will head out again in April 2023, and if we experience the same we will call it quits. Perhaps things will calm down by 2023!!”

Closing campgrounds and building condos

Eileen R. reports about Delaware area campgrounds and writes, “We are seasonal campers in the same Delaware campground since 2005. We’ve seen many campgrounds in the area close and homes or condos built in their place. In our campground, the number of seasonal sites is limited to keep sites available for short-term campers. Also, seasonal campers must leave every two weeks for a few days to keep the campground status, and there are rules for the construction and size of decks, sheds, and screen rooms.

“Back in 2008, a lot of seasonal campers moved out because of the economy. However, the number of seasonal campers has grown just in the past 2 or 3 years, and now there is a lengthy waiting list. People are buying campers on occupied seasonal sites even if the camper is old and in poor condition just to get a site where they can place a newer camper. This is the first time I’ve experienced this in our campground during our many years in the Rehoboth Beach area.”

Occupy the first night or lose the reservation

Sherry L. tells about Indiana State Parks’ policy: “In Indiana State Parks you must reserve six months out. You must occupy the campsite the first night or lose the reservation. Two weeks maximum, then have to leave the park for two days. Any trailer, RV, or tent is welcome. Shower houses, trash pick up, and some have full hookups. No meters yet. Long-term campsites look full.”

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

##RVT1079b

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9 Comments
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captain gort
1 day ago

Blame this all on the internet and the whole “#vanlife” mania that it perpetrated. The madness of crowds…and the inevitable greed that it breeds. Its all blowing up now. Good riddance. Watch it sink into the sunset, leaving a huge slick. And that slick is countless lost dollars and opportunities.

Neal Davis
5 days ago

We have become much more proactive in booking campsites over the last 2 or 3 years. That is, looking much earlier to book a site at our favorite campground in the suburbs of DC. Going from a 43′ DP to a 36′ DP surprisingly only added one site to those that will accommodate our rig. We hope that the additional number we fit elsewhere is much greater. We do have a few days in March at a Georgia state park that has no sites that our 43-footer would have fit, but several were large enough for the current 36-footer.

Chris P. Bacon
7 days ago

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again…. Just this past week we stayed 7 days at a “resort” park. At the front entrance was a sign: “No Sites Available.” (This didn’t come as a total surprise as we had needed to juggle our itinerary a few days in order to take advantage of the only dates they were able to offer us.)

But, again, I found this extremely curious as there were a multitude of sites that were vacant for the duration of my stay.

This has been the case at three out of three parks we’ve stayed in over the past six weeks.

Clearly, something in the RV Park business model incentivizes something other than running at or near full capacity.

Gary Bate
8 days ago

Did a 7 week 6,500 mile trip to Key West and back earlier this year. We booked the Florida keys and parts of Florida about 2 months ahead as apparently everyone wants to go to Florida in winter !!! The rest of the trip including some State parks in Florida we just booked as we traveled, everything from harvest hosts to resorts to cheap private parks enroute. No problem, no worries. Of course you have to plan ahead for destination trips to popular national parks etc but that’s always been the case. The whole point of traveling in an RV is flexibility.

Joe
8 days ago

Please stop with these articles! You just keep writing the same crap that is just not true, or is a minor representation of the real world.
In 2022 we’ve traveled over 11,000 miles and stayed at almost 80 different places. We’ve booked months in advance, and days in advance. In only 1 (one) instance could we not get a reservation at a campground in an area we wanted and that is because it was high season and they were only doing week long reservations and we only needed four days .
Of all the places we’ve stayed, I can count on one hand the number of campgrounds that were completely full. We’ve not had any real issues with bad neighbors, and no issues with bad management. Nor have we run into anyone who has had these issues

Paul
8 days ago
Reply to  Joe

I agree. This drum has a busted head. National Parks and high tourist travel destinations have always required long advanced planning. Most other accommodations have been readily available with little to no advance planning – I just wrote up recent experience in the form of a 4,000 mile 4 week jaunt with next to no advance planning.

Mot
8 days ago
Reply to  Joe

In 30 months we’ve traveled over 53,000 miles thru 25 states as full timers.
Seldom do we reserve ahead. Once on the road, we look arround 150-250 miles down the road chosen & call that day.
Others have said “be flexible” & that’s how we go. Only 1 time so far have we had to boondock rather than camp without reservation. Other “no space available” areas have been a CG overflow area, a Harvest Host or Boondockers Welcome site were all we needed. No Walmart needed.
Only thing we are seeing are city, county state & federal campground prices have pretty much doubled in 2 years. Some bare site (no hookups but with water & dump station available) as high as $70.
Yet free FHU sites are still arround.

Last edited 8 days ago by Mot
Brian
8 days ago

RV sales have skyrocketed and more people than ever are taking up RVing. Isn’t this statement getting kind of outdated? I’m seeing and hearing lots of news about RV sales slowing and lots full of new, unsold rigs. Personally I think we will see some leveling off of folks camping this next season and if RV sales continue to drop, there may be a decline as the existing units get less and less use by their owners. Of course the exception will be full timers and Van Lifers, both of who seem to be holding steady, although many Van Lifers can’t afford a $150-200K van so will scoop up the used ones, slowing sales of the new ones. Also if private campground visits do slow it’s likely many will take on more permanent residents to maintain a predictable income, already been seeing this. Just my observations, what do you think?

Spike
8 days ago
Reply to  Brian

Brian, I thought and have even mentioned the same here before. I also sent in my comments on a recent month long trip to Eastern Texas where I made no reservations until 3-4 days before leaving and not for the return 1400 mile trip with three overnight stops until 1-2 days before.

One constant in our trip was RV dealers packed to the gills with new RVs! We visited two different dealerships just for fun. They have a lot of work to do to sell off all those 2022 models on the lots!

New headline: RV sales have plummeted and good camping spots can be found with short notice and a little flexibility!

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