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.
This week saw lots and lots of emails about the rising price of camping. Here are only a few of the many I received.
Ridiculous rules and jacked-up prices
Robert D. thinks it is time to go back to boating. He has a good point… “I’ve only been camping a few years now but I’m getting very discouraged even though I love it. More campgrounds are getting taken over by corporations and they are ruining the experience by establishing ridiculous rules and jacking up the prices to the point where it’s just as cheap to get a hotel room. Frequently, as was the case with the campground that we loved, the corporation is from far away (in this case California, with the campground being in New Hampshire). They have no conception of what the local people like and are most definitely against seasonals. And the rules that are being adopted in so many campgrounds for campers 10 years and older are insane. Time for me to go back to boating.”
Higher than a hotel
Todd S. is feeling the pinch of expensive camping, too. He writes, “Parks have gotten almost as expensive as staying at a hotel, and with the higher fuel prices it might even be more, as I’m sure most rigs don’t get any better than 15 mpg. The deal nowadays is fewer and far between.”
Motel 6 prices
Calvin W. has seen prices rise to the Motel 6 level. He says, “We agree it’s just not fun anymore. Prices in commercial campgrounds have risen to Motel 6 levels. Camping used to be something we looked forward to, but not anymore. We’re selling our 5’er and going back to our smaller travel trailer and going on shorter trips from now on.”
Rates almost tripled
Kevin V. saw rates at a KOA soar and they are going up again! Yikes… “Was a full-time resident at a KOA on the east coast of Florida and within less than ten months the rent per month increased from $500 to $1,450, with no appreciable changes in the site. Unfortunately, they have absolutely no problem filling these sites and intend to raise the rent again next month. Pure greed is the only explanation.”
“Give me a tent, a fire and a babbling brook”
Donald J. has no problems at all finding a site for his tent. He explains, “Don’t need my house attached to me to enjoy camping. To me, that’s not camping. It’s trailer park living. I use a good tent, portable heat and sometimes sleep in the back of my SUV. I have never had a problem finding a GOOD campsite and often found unique places to stay like high alpine huts or others. Thought about an RV, but after 24 years of driving trucks both over the road and locally, it doesn’t sound like fun finding parking in a Love’s truck stop or Walmart. Give me a tent, a fire and a babbling brook and I am good.”
Satisfied with no expectations or experience
Rod H. is a happy camper. The key? No expectations. “We’re late 60s and just started RVing a couple of years ago. Having no prior experience or expectations, we’ve been satisfied. We travel in the west, and grab our destination (anchor) sites as soon as reservations open. We usually spend some time at KOAs between destinations and have been pleased thus far. Having an off-grid rig that fits in most state/national park spots is key, as well as adaptability. We RV for adventure, and logistics is a large part the experience. Heading south to Quartzsite next winter to explore the Southwest and Texas for the eclipse!”
Richard F. will take camping any day over a rocking chair. “Lots of sour grapes. These people should stay home and leave the campgrounds for the people who still enjoy camping. Don’t blame the KOAs of the world, part of the ‘something for everyone’ thing.
“I have 80+ days of camping planned for this season and I can’t wait. One or two KOAs, when there is no place else to stay (there are always nice people when I call them). Plenty of federal land, state parks, county parks and Harvest Hosts locations. Sure it takes a little more work to be where you want to be, but I’ll take camping anytime over sitting on my rocking chair (have one of those, too) watching the grass grow. I’m almost 80 and the other day someone dear to me said, ‘It’s only a matter of time.’ Ponder that!!!!”
You gotta go with the flow and enjoy the ride
Lawrence S. believes RVing is an activity nothing else can fulfill. Here’s why: “I have found that if you are able to plan a trip well in advance, 6-12 months, and I realize that is not always possible, securing a site at a popular campground is no problem.
“We have been RVing for 11 years and what I have noticed is a lack of respect (space and noise) among some of the younger RVing families. A weekend at a family-friendly resort can be the equivalent of getting through a minefield what with bikes and games littering the driveways. So, yes, we now tend to avoid those places, at least on weekends. But sometimes you gotta go with the flow.
“As for many ‘corporate parks,’ granted they are more expensive, but overall, the facilities tend to have been upgraded.
“RVing has always been a choice one makes as a way to achieve something in life that no other activity can fulfill. As long as RVing accomplishes that ‘something,’ RVers will be out there doing their thing. Enjoy the ride!”
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: Is KOA ‘single-handedly ruining camping’?
RV sales have “finally” slowed?? So basically, once you have yours, you’d just as soon close the gate behind you. I suspect there are people out there who wish you’d just stay at home too…
During my early years of RVing we stayed at state parks, city parks, and on rare occasions a commercial campground. Since renewing my camping with my new wife she likes the parks with the pools, hot tubs, and all the rest of the bells, buttons, and whistles. The costs of this has gotten enormous, now as octogenarians we have decided to hang up the keys and when we travel it will be hotel/motel and restaurants (DW loves that), but as soon as we get into the room she immediately checks the bed for bed bugs. I miss the comfort of our own bed, our own toilet, our own shower. But such is life.
I don’t know where these people are staying, but state parks are $30-$40 a night. My whole extended family has grown up camping, and we love it. It’s nothing to have 10-12 sites just us every trip!
Not surprised,.. corporations buying up campgrounds for easy money. Pushing out mom and pop run places. Jacking up prices for same sites.
If you don’t enjoy camping, quit bitching and move on to another hobby.
I agree Ron
Here is another perspective. From reading the comments, it sounds as if people love camping, but are disappointed by the drastically increasing costs and lack of availability and/or being forced out of communities that they love because of new rules. It seems like they are just more disappointed vs bitching to me. It’s hard if you are on a fixed income to absorb those types of price hikes or having to buy a new rig because it can’t be more than 10 years old, even if it’s well maintained.
To me, being in a campground with families enjoying the experiences that make camping so much fun for kids, is no problem. If kids cut through my campsite, I simply and politely request that they go a different route and have never had any problems after that. It is usually adults who I find the most disrespectful. Loud music, drinking and swearing loudly, incessant dog barking followed by cursing at the animal etc. I took my kids camping when they were growing up and all of them continue to camp with their own kids.