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Has slowdown in RV sales helped with campground crowding?

RV sales have slowed (finally) and fewer people are buying RVs than has been the recent trend. Has that changed campground crowding? Is it easier to find a campsite now, particularly in state and national parks? Campgrounds are changing and evolving, some for the better and some for the worse. RV Travel readers discuss their experiences and offer a few tips to help other campers find that perfect spot.

Here are a few observations from our readers.

No one wants to do their job

Cliff D. has seen how hard it is to get reservations at a public campground. He writes, “Have been RVing for last 10 years. Started in tents, moved to a pop-up, then a small trailer, and now we just bought a new Grand Design Imagine two years ago while on a long trip. Mainly stay in state parks, private houses, and in Military campgrounds. In the last two years, it is sad to see how hard it is to get a reservation at a campsite in a public park, only to arrive and find half of them empty because no one showed up! States and NPS need to correct this. This is pure laziness on the part of administrators and rangers not making it available if no one shows up. No one wants to do their job!!”

Don’t expect to find a site when just pulling off the highway

Vivian T. wants people to know if they don’t plan ahead they may not find good sites. Here’s what she says: “Hello! I work for the premiere RV Park in the New Orleans area. Our campground stays full all year round. My best advice is to plan early, especially the big rigs, which are the hardest to place. Special events require at least two months in advance. Please do not call the campground as you are pulling off the highway and expect to find a site to accommodate you for longer than 24 hours. That will not likely happen. People who fail to plan should plan on not finding adequate camping facilities. Just some advice. We hope to see you all later.”

The cost of gas is the killer

Gas prices are scary! Michael C. has cut their travel. “We’ve cut our travel in half. Overcrowding is bad and sites are hard to get in popular places. But the cost of fuel is the killer. We usually do 4-5 months per year. Now not so sure. Sad.”

Haven’t experienced any inability to get reservations

Brain B. stays at private campgrounds and has had no problems. He says, “We have not experienced any inability to get reservations for RV Parks. We only go to full hookups with 50 amp and all utilities including sewer. We never boondock. With a 40-foot diesel pusher, we look to RV Parks wherever we travel. I guess you get what you pay for. We have no interest in primitive camping; we really enjoy our travels in our motorhome.”

Be prepared to dry camp if need be

Paul G. is full-time and not having trouble finding sites either. “We’ve been full-time since 2011. We just traveled across the country from Rochester, NY, to Temecula, CA, from October to early November. We did not experience any trouble finding nice camping spots with very limited planning. My biggest concern was a stay in Asheville, NC, where we found space at Mama Gertie’s with a couple of days’ notice—the start of our trip had been delayed several days for repairs to the toad. The park we usually stay at in Las Cruces, NM, was sold and is now monthly-only. This is not a great loss as it was getting seedy and rundown, but we liked it for its location.

“Instead, we got into a nicer, newer park—Hacienda—with a three-day advance notice. Likewise scoring a riverfront site at Tom Sawyer in West Memphis was accomplished with three days’ advance planning. Other stops were at Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome and at a truck stop in Dateland, AZ. This was more planful than our usual travel only because we use Trip Wizard to lay out our route and it lets me look ahead a couple of days (weeks if I want) to see where we want to stop. The secret is traveling off-season, generally not looking for National Parks or other high-demand tourist stops and being prepared to dry camp if need be.”

World’s worst at planning

Kit V. says they are the worst at planning but still always finds a site. “We are the world’s worst at planning ahead. Having said that, we always find campgrounds. The two circumstances we focus on are holidays/events and destination locations. We try to make sure we have reservations in advance for all holidays (usually a month or more ahead) and destinations in high tourism/traffic areas. Other than those we have little trouble finding spots and plan a week or less in advance. We are full-time and we can’t imagine crowding affecting our life. We don’t boondock presently but we are planning to in the spring, only as a cost-savings measure in-between reservations”

Please include RV size in comments

Mike A. would like to know the size of commenters’ RVs. He writes, “It would be helpful if people included their RV size in their comments. If a person says they have lots of trouble finding a campsite and they have a 40′ Class A, while another says they have no problems at all while they have a 22′ Class B, it makes the comments more relevant and understandable.”

Now, some questions for you:

  • Are you finding campgrounds booked up? Or is finding a place to stay not a problem?
  • Are campgrounds changing for the better or for the worse?
  • Are you seeing more permanent and seasonal RV parks?
  • Are rising costs affecting your camping style?
  • 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: Hotels cheaper than campgrounds?

##RVT1082b

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BWOdom
1 month ago

We have learned to make reservations ahead for major areas, then “fill in” the other days as we travel to the next reservation. We always make sure to have a place to stay on the weekends, and usually fill in during the weekdays when it is easier to find a space. We also look at event calendars for targeted areas to avoid overcrowding both at the campground and the general area.

Sometimes we end up staying a little longer than we may have chosen had we not reserved first; and sometimes we wish we could stay longer (but often no availability options). In the long run it works well for us. We can call ahead for prescription pick-ups in those reserved areas, do shorter day trips to places nearby, don’t have the set-up/take-down chores as often.

May be the best of both worlds.

MattD
1 month ago

RE; ‘No one wants to do their job’ above. Yep! Conchas Lake State Park in New Mexico, never seen people so lazy! You could tell this guy hated his job, and was only there for a paycheck. Had some questions about the lake and stopped in the visitor’s center, the ranger just kept saying “I don’t know”. I was friendly and respectful, he was basically telling me go away, leave me alone. Talked to another guy there and he had the same attitude, and said he couldn’t answer any questions because he was new there. Why do people go into this service if they hate it so? Don’t understand.

Jimbob
1 month ago
Reply to  MattD

Because they are hiring the bottom of the barrel, because nobody wants to work.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Jimbob

Totally agree.

Bob p
1 month ago

Mike A has a valid point as I have had in the past where I suggested a general location where the over crowding is occurring. If it is high tourist areas yes it will be overcrowded, if it is scenic but not high tourist concentration I doubt it will be overcrowded. It all depends on your wants!

Jesse Crouse
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob p

I agree Bob. Like Mike you have to also know rig length. DP with a toad is completely different from a 25 foot travel trailer or small class c or b. Up graded to a 40″ DP with toad because of what we do when we get to our destination.

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