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.
Take the good with the bad
Donna P. has a great attitude and some advice. She shares, “I guess it’s like anything else—you’ve got to take the good with the bad. During the fall/winter months, we stay at an older campground—my hubby works close by. It’s crowded most of the time. However, the people here are terrific. Lots to do. And we have family close by. The other months we travel. Sure, there are traveling workers like linemen, nurses, road workers, etc. However, where would we be without them? And the fact that these traveling workers can take their families with them is wonderful!”
Rising prices may push out some campers
Jeff S. is used to campgrounds being crowded but thinks rising prices may be opening up more sites. He explains, “I agree that campgrounds have become more crowded, but living in the northeast, we are used to that sort of thing. It is almost impossible to get a spot on a weekend without a reservation during the camping season at popular campgrounds. We book our holiday weekends a year in advance (because we have to). That being said, we are seeing a shift in campground ownership to the big corporations. As site prices continue to rise, I think they will push out the more frugal camper and more sites will become available. Camping is not the most affordable type of travel it once was, between fuel prices and site fees, but it’s still what we prefer.”
Summer camping may be the only vacation families can afford
Dave J. generally camps in the off-season and sees summers as good for families. “I agree that campgrounds can be crowded, especially during summer holidays. Being retired we can come and go as we please. We prefer to go before school is out and after the kids have gone back to school. Summer is very busy with families. But we must remember, for young families this may be the only type of vacation they can afford. Given what housing and mortgage costs are these days, some of these families are lucky to get away at all. As long as parents attend to their children and keep the “hootin’ and hollerin'” to a minimum, their pets in check, be polite and courteous, neat, tidy, and respectful, I see no reason at all not to welcome this type of camper.
“We, in the spring and fall, where we live, are permitted by the park system to camp for 23 consecutive days (7-14 during high season) and take full advantage of that. I don’t see that as being selfish. If a seasonal site or extended-stay site is desired, there are specific parks for that, and that is where those campers should be. As far as people working from their site, as long as the site is paid for, their length of stay is not overstepped and it does not disturb others, so why not?”
No issues in 9,000 miles!
Ray J. moves around a lot and has no issues finding campsites. He writes, “This year we have made a great 9,000-mile circle from Texas to Alabama and up to Indiana, Michigan, and over to Wisconsin, North Dakota, Colorado, and now Arizona. We have had no difficulty finding overnight spots such as KOA, Harvest Hosts, and independent campgrounds. Now in the Phoenix area for the winter, will move around every week or even stay two months in one place. No issues finding campgrounds. We are at a popular park in Mesa currently and it is so far only 50 percent full. I see availability getting better next year if you can afford to travel.”
Open to the road less traveled
Steven C. finds out-of-the-way spots with ReserveAmerica. Here’s how: “As full-timers, we have ‘work mode’ and ‘explore mode,’ which is more spontaneous. We can no longer spontaneously pick specific destinations and expect to find campsites while exploring, so we’ve changed to picking regions we want to explore. We use ReserveAmerica to find out-of-the-way state parks, city parks, and recreation areas in a region with availability and do our exploring from those. Some of these parks have been real hidden gems. It’s all about being flexible, and open to the road less traveled.”
Seasonal and not homeless
Robin D. enjoys the North Carolina mountains. “I am seasonal in the North Carolina mountains, where I enjoy cooler weather, lovely surroundings and a well-kept, friendly, safe and quiet campground from late spring until fall. I have an income (I am retired) and I’m not homeless. Also, I enjoy the community of seasonal campers at this campground along with meeting the many overnighters, weeklies, and monthlies who visit.
“I do not appreciate being lumped in with homeless, viewed as shady, or otherwise ‘undesirable.’ It seems we seasonals are the target of disdain from those who haven’t yet tired of traveling to and from various campgrounds. I have—and like—being in one spot for a season but also enjoy my RV and the many seasonal campers whom I value as friends. The truth is that some of those who disdain ‘seasonals’ and ‘monthlies’ will someday appreciate the same thing in the future.”
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.
Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column: RVing getting easier again; more available sites