Sunday, March 26, 2023


Campground costs have risen, and this RVer’s spreadsheet is solid proof

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.

Excel spreadsheet tells the truth

Diane M. keeps a spreadsheet of costs and it proves what we have all been feeling. She explains, “One day left on our return from FL to CA. The destination reservations were made in advance. Prices are definitely rising. I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all our trips. $25 to $35 sites not too many years ago now $50 to $80. Many are in the $60 range. We don’t use amenities very often on trips out and back. On overnights, we use full hookups once, electric only the rest of the time. Places we’ve stayed in Texas many times just got bought and the rates went up $15. KOA bought the campground that was our first and last stop in Bakersfield. Rates jumped $20 and even worse… they did away with the two cookies and two oranges at check-in! We are close to the end of our travels so don’t want to give up yet. Blessed that we can afford it.”

Doubled in price!

Mark S. reports on rates doubling at their favorite KOA: “We had seasonal rates for four years in a KOA. This winter season we received notice that seasonal rates will no longer be applicable. Future rates will be nightly rates. The daily rate doubles the cost. The KOA we stayed in went from $2,000 to $4,000. A rate change of this magnitude pushes seasonal campers to look for better rates.”

Downsized and now fit

Neal D. downsized and it made a difference. Here’s why: “Last July (2022) we downsized from a 43′ DP to a 36′ DP. Later this month we are visiting a Georgia state park in the NE corner of the state near the southern end of the Appalachian Trail for a few days. We are able to stay at the campground in this particular state park (Unicoi) only because we now have a shorter RV. None of their sites is large enough for a 43′ DP.”

RV park rate rising faster than paycheck

Karen B. reports on rising rates for long-term stays. She says, “I moved from an apartment into a travel trailer because the rent went up several hundred dollars. Do I consider myself homeless? Sometimes. I have lived in my travel trailer for three years now, and now, rent at the RV park is climbing faster than my paycheck. There are a lot of long-term stays, and the park does fill up at times, usually when there are ball games (we have two major stadiums nearby). The park maintains a clean, friendly atmosphere. I love it here. I have great neighbors, a big name grocery a block away, and my job is nearby, but, with rent going up…”

Biggest complaint

Dawn H. sees prices rising and people with no camping etiquette. She writes, “My biggest complaint is the big companies buying all the campgrounds and raising the daily rate to a ridiculously high price. Also, new campers with no campground etiquette. We have been camping since 1996. The people that are camping now leave trash and poop all over the sites. People cutting through sites. Most aren’t friendly. Camping has certainly changed and not for the better.”

First snowbird trip and no problems finding sites

Darla B. just completed the first snowbird trip and had no issues with campsites. She says, “After waiting five years for my wife to catch up with me and retire, we just completed our first snowbird adventure. 90 days, 10k miles, 11 states. I had only a general plan in mind and only two advanced reservations made for our first two stops when we set off. I instinctively followed what one reader dubbed 3-3-3 and found that system to work well for us. We stayed in national parks, state parks, KOAs, Jellystones, private parks, BLM, and friends’ driveways. I had zero problems with last-minute spots. And only a small handful were gravel overnight lots no one would want to use for more than a good night’s sleep. I must admit, I was worried when we left after reading so much about crowding, but I just didn’t see it. From KY to CA and back, it was an amazing trip.”

It’s bad in California

Andrew O. reports on camping in California: “Living in California I can tell you it’s bad here. Too many people everywhere and most have no manners. Reminds me of a recent stay at Ventura RV Resort. What a laugh. Big holes in the streets, crowded to the point of not being able to navigate the interior roads, exorbitant prices, and yes, loud obnoxious people and their kids.”

100-150 miles is a sweet spot

Jimmie C. has a sweet spot for driving mileage. “The longest I have EVER driven in a day was out of need and was 400 miles. I was only able to do this by stopping every 100 miles to get out, take a walk, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, then hop back under the wheel. I’m 70 and retired and do not have a co-driver to help navigate. I have a 35-foot motorhome towing a Jeep. 100 to 150 is my sweet spot with 250 miles the max! Your age and health and RV all play into what is right for you.”

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: If you want accurate campsite reservation pricing, double…no, triple…the advertised rate!



At last! A directory of where to camp on public lands!
The Bureau of Land Management Camping book describes 1,273 camping areas managed by the BLM in 14 Western states. Details for each camping area include the number of campsites, amenities, facilities, fees, reservation information, GPS coordinates, and more. You’ll want this book if you camp or are interested in camping on BLM land. Learn more or order.


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6 days ago

crowding and rate hikes in your own state is not really an issue but you travel to another state and get the non resident fee tacked on….that blows. for that reason, i will stay local and not travel to other wonderful destinations with my RV

8 days ago

Yes, camping costs have increased with everything else. Well not everything. Coccaine is at record lows from the 70s and 80s and Fentanyl, well its almost free. C’mon man.

8 days ago

Doubling and tripling campsite rates is capitalism. If no one was spending these inflated rates, they would come down. Supply and demand. BTW, I don’t like it either, but I understand it.

8 days ago

One factor may be the cost of electricity and the increase of electric appliances on RVs and electric vehicles. I surprised myself by calculating the max electric cost a park would see at a 50A pedestal in 24 hrs at 16.8* cents/KWhr:
(125v x 2legs x 50A x 24hr )/1000 = 300 KW Hr
300KWhr x 0.168 $/KWhr = $48

Up until recently, most campers would use only a fraction of that. But add some electric resistance heaters, induction cookers, and especially EV bike/golf cart/road vehicle charging and you could approach that.

I have read some parks are banning EV charging. I predict in the future there will be pedestals that meter and charge for actual electric usage. If not, its unfair to make the other campers subsidize the big users.

*16.8cents/KWhr is the average US (cities) price (I assume not including taxes and fees) per this website:

Last edited 8 days ago by George
8 days ago
Reply to  George

George, you need to move the decimal point. It should read $4.80 per day not $48.00. I keep very close track of my power in Yuma over the winter. With 50 amp service it usually runs me about $1.50 per day. If I run my electric fireplace a few hours in the morning and again in the evening the bill jumps to around $4.50 per day. Using a radiant heater cuts down the power consumption. Having a fan push air around doubles the power needed.

8 days ago

Oddly enough, our 2 favorite places to camp haven’t gone up in price in several years. Probably why they are our favorites. And reservation fee was eliminated a few years ago for one of them.
It is difficult to get reservations for the best sites, more so every year

8 days ago

If it were just inflation, we wouldn’t have as much sticker shock. Campsites in many cases have skyrocketed like eggs!
In booking a trip recently, and rebooking places along the way we have stayed before, all are easily more than double what they were 5 to 10 years ago. Worse, some are now triple.

All we can do is try and budget and be good campers at the places we go. Let the new generation go to the fancy resort campgrounds and pay those ridiculous prices. At least they will not be at my COE and National Forest campgrounds.

8 days ago

It’s like everything else, one price increase affects another. Increase in insurance, electric, water and sewer in turn drive up CG fees. Upkeep and upgrades we complain about drive the cost up too. We want 2020’s amenities with 1960’s prices. Not happening and not political. It’s greed in some and to others, to stay afloat.

Bob M
8 days ago

Everyone complains about the cost of campground fees going up. But these same campers don’t seem to complain about everything else going up. Taxes, electric, water and all thing to maintain rv parks go up drastically. I don’t like prices going up, but it goes up drastically on everything. The killer for me last year was gas for towing my TT. You have to complain to your politicians plus the fed chairman raising interest rates hurt.

8 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

Without the Fed raising interest rates, inflation will continue to cause more harm to everyone. It hurts, but it MUST continue to bring the inflation rate down to 2-3%.

8 days ago
Reply to  Leonard

Yes, too much money chasing too few goods. Interest rate increases reduce the amount of cash in an economy. Inflation will have to continue until the politicians (both parties guilty) quit printing money. It will take years of higher inflation to reduce the trillions printed in the last 12 years and especially the last 3 years, post pandemic emergency.

Chic Sanders
8 days ago

Did anyone think camping/RV site fees where impervious to inflation? Of course, Inflation hits everything and no, your paycheck will not keep up. Sarcastically, let’s tax the rich to pay for it! The problem with that is, YOU are the rich!

8 days ago
Reply to  Chic Sanders

If RV sites were simply keeping up with inflation, the costs would be manageable. But they are not. Since camping became popular several years ago, and then more popular during the pandemic, many campgrounds have increased their fees much more than inflation would warrant, tacking on $5 here, $20 there, plus nuisance fees, year after year. Many have doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their fees. Did your rent triple during the last 7 years? Did your paycheck double or triple?

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