RV sales have slowed and fewer people are buying RVs than was 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.
We are the ones who paid for the campgrounds
Jerald W. makes a good point about who actually paid for the campgrounds and his issue with resorts. He writes, “Too many people living in RV parks permanently. Some parks have 80 spaces and only 10 to 15 are open for traveling RVs. Too many ‘RESORTS.’ Overnighters have to pay high prices and never use the pools, hot tubs, gym, etc. The older RVers paid for the campgrounds in the ’80s ’90s, and 2000 to 2015 to get them started. Now the same campground is a resort. If your RV is 10 years old you can’t get in. RV Resorts are now $80 to $120+. I can still get a hotel for that. I’m selling my rig. So screw the so-called RESORTS. When you go to them it’s either the pool or hot tub is out of order, but they still charge the same.”
Have to camp out of state; easier to get a hotel
Diane H. lives in Florida and is forced to camp out of state! She tells us, “We own a home in Florida and a 35-foot travel trailer and have an almost impossible time trying to secure camping sites with full hookups here in Florida at any time of the year, especially during the winter and spring. We have had to resort to camping out of state towards West Virginia but have had to limit those trips due to high fuel costs. It is just as easy and cost-effective to get a hotel and eat out.”
Extend the camping season; build more campgrounds
Mathew S. has many great suggestions to ease the crowding and search for sites. He tells us, “State and National camps sometimes have a six months reservation time. That means more camps need to be built. The population has grown and the campsites have not. RVs have gotten too long and can’t fit into sites made 50 years ago. People have their truck or tow car parked into the driveway area. The Memorial Day to Labor Day season, when many campsites are open, needs to be extended. The weather can be great and the campsites are still closed for the season. The National Parks and State Parks are squeezing people into this small timeframe for no reason. More campsites need to be built and existing ones made bigger.”
RV full-time in an RV resort and love it!
Joe B. gives us all the pluses of living in an RV resort. He writes, “My wife and I are full-time living in our RV. We RV full-time in a campground resort. They raised the rent last year just $200 shy of a thousand, but we don’t have to worry about yard work or property tax, other than the camper, and we get advantages of all the amenities such as a gym, hot tubs, lazy river, serenity pool, kids’ water park, activities courtyard (cornhole, basketball courts, pickleball, also bowling and billiards). Many are selling their houses and buying RVs cuz it’s cheaper than rent or mortgage payments. You can buy it outright and easy to fix and repair. It’s actually cheaper than a mobile home. Just check out Myrtle Beach and Conway, SC, for all RV resorts and campsites.”
Seasonal spot, not camping
Tammy M. tells us what camping is to her, and her likes and dislikes. “Not me, but our daughter and son-in-law pay, like, $7,000 for a seasonal spot from April–October in a nice campground on St. Joseph River in Michigan. They live 20-30 minutes away but live there in the summer months. They have a pool, clubhouse, river dock for their pontoon boat, showers and bathrooms. That said, the cost is high, the neighbors are the same yearly, and mostly the upper area is for bus-type RVs with satellite TV hooked to their bus roofs.
“To me, this isn’t camping or RVing. Gas prices, site prices, and amenities seem to dictate the experience. But I agree that KOA and like grounds are running the reasons. I can’t speak for off-grid, but where would you do that if you don’t know?
“I am a spur-of-moment person, never knowing where I wanna be or when and to have an itinerary to camp seems like a job in itself. RV parks can also be picky about the year model of your rig and that’s not right to me either. Personally, I would rather just stay home in my large roomy house with all amenities and not worry about problems other RVers have. Also, RVs and truckers who park on highway ramps and shopping parking lots are throwing trash and dumping, making it not only nasty but ruining the privileges for everyone else. RVers need to be more considerate and responsible, as do truckers.”
On a budget and worry about costs
Brenda C. needs to live within her means and rising costs can make that difficult. She writes, “I am always worried about finding places to go that don’t cost a lot of money. When you are on a budget, you have to live within your means. Campgrounds are definitely changing, they want permanent sites, and we don’t want to stay in one area all the time. We stay in COE parks.”
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: Reservations: ‘These days, you get what you’re willing to pay for’