RV sales have slowed and fewer people are buying RVs than had 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.
Pay more to be close to the attractions
David N. is finding sites in RV parks and mostly sees price gouging near attractions. He tells us, “We have not had any problems finding sites to camp at in RV parks or state campgrounds. We do avoid peak season. We are full-timers in a 32-ft. 5th wheel. Most campgrounds are fine. Some are outdated and are difficult to maneuver for larger RVs. Most older RV parks, or parks that are closer to the city, have full-timers. Price gouging is usually close to national parks or city centers. Like everything, you pay more to be close to the attractions. This is why we look for boondocking and state camping whenever possible.”
Joke’s on the “resorts”!
Sharon S. deletes resort RV parks from her list. She writes, “We have seen a few places that have “resort” in the name but are questionable. There may be many we haven’t seen. If campgrounds change their name to “resort” simply to be able to charge more, the joke is on them, as far as we are concerned. When I search for campgrounds to reserve, the first thing I do is delete any “resorts” from the list. I do not bother to look further at them.”
Complaints about overcrowding just an excuse to not use their RV
Rick S. notices the rising prices and the RV resorts that are adding improvements and amenities. He says, “#1. Not having any problems with ‘crowded’ parks. Just plan ahead and heaven forbid… make a reservation. #2. Parks we stay at have shown significant improvements to cater to their targeted client set. Folks that want to sleep in a tent will probably not stay where we do but that’s okay. #3. Seasonal reservations are always an option at parks where we stay. Have they increased? Yes, because more and more couples live the lifestyle. #4. Rising costs are not a problem as we have planned to enjoy life now…not tomorrow. #5. Your question assumes parks are overcrowded but we haven’t experienced overcrowding… we believe it’s just people complaining and an excuse to not use their RV. #6. Plan ahead and make reservations!!”
Peaceful, quiet and never full
Jeffery B. tells us about the campground they own. He writes, “I own JB’s RV Park. We have 22 sites with few amenities. Mostly peace, quiet and country. I can’t relate to this post because we desire the people that are tired of the hustle and bustle of what you are describing. Currently, we are seldom to never full and are always quiet and relaxed.”
$245 a night at a KOA
Steve C. is finding sites on the coast are outrageously expensive. He reports, “We like COEs and state parks as the nicer parks, especially on the coast, have become outrageously expensive. North and South Carolina all start at $100 per night, Outer Banks KOA is $245 per night, and western NC is still fairly reasonable but you have to take your time to look around. We are finding sites available on the coast and mountains pretty much any time of the year.”
Camped next to run-down RVs and it was good experience
Edna E. mentions a number of things in her email to us: prices, full-timers, recreation and a way of life. She says, “Yes, campgrounds are asking for sky-high prices, pricing out retirees, veterans and the less fortunate and tent camping. I’ve camped among those with run-down RVs and have had good experiences.
“Resorts/campgrounds are becoming greedier than hell. National Parks, State, and County Parks have jumped in and raised their prices too. It’s not Disneyland. Camping is a recreation and a way of life for working people who have to travel like medical professionals, like myself.
“Crowding may have become a bit heavier, but booking in advance does help. Boondocking is not for everyone. So do it if you can. It’s a great adventure for tents too. Summertime and many holidays, campgrounds have always been crowded, nothing new here.
“I honestly don’t see how full-timers are crowding the system when booking is the same for everyone. Campgrounds could invest more and add spaces, which I know some are. Remember, we are in the age of millenniums, the biggest population. The costs need to come down. Gouging RVers is unacceptable for just outdoor recreational fun.”
More RVers traveling for work
DLee C. sees more traveling workers as they RV. They write, “We have found more workers who travel for their jobs lately. We always travel the backroads and normally never make overnight reservations ahead more than on our arrival day, and we have a 70’ combo big rig. Michigan UP has been our travel route lately from Ohio to Montana. Wonderful scenery and plenty of camping. More crowding along major highways, so we avoid those places.”
Woke up and chose van life for flexibility and freedom
Rob B. didn’t like what he heard about RV parks, build quality, and service. He chose a different path: “I was heading full steam for a 5th wheel life, then realized I didn’t like a single thing that I was reading online with regard to build-quality and requirements for staying in those gawd-awful RV parks. I wanted a life with flexibility and freedom, not one of rules, expense, and deadlines.
“I had tons of $$ to spend. Thank God I woke up and chose van life. I can stay in literally any little space on Earth. Because I’m solar to the max and carry no black tank, I have EVERYTHING open to me. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE consider top-quality travel vans instead of poorly built, and pain-in-the-arse pull-behind trailers. I have NO regrets and could not be happier with my choice.”
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: ‘We thought RVing would be a good way to travel and see things, but prices hard on our wallets’