RV sales have slowed 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.
Only three sites left… Really??
Conni C. found a great spot but there were only three sites left. I wonder if it is a marketing ploy? She writes, “I had reservations for the 4th of July weekend that I had to cancel due to issues with our truck. We were able to get our truck fixed so I went on the search for something, anything, the week before. I was able to find a great spot in a great place the day before we wanted to leave. According to the website, it was one of three sites left; however, the area we were in was mostly empty the whole time we were there. We left Monday before the 4th, so maybe it filled up, but for the weekend it was quiet and pretty empty.”
Go to a hotel
Tommy R. is finding the campground costs so high that a hotel may be better. He says, “Good campgrounds are getting too expensive. I find that if I’m looking for a campground with decent amenities, I find the prices not much lower than checking into a hotel with those same, and even more, amenities. Plus, I don’t have the increased gas expenses nor have to go to the trouble of setting up my RV and site, then breaking it back down afterward.”
No luck with ReserveAmerica
Bill C. has no luck with ReserveAmerica even when it says sites are available. He explains, “We are Rhode Island residents and most enjoy one of our state parks called Fishermen’s Memorial in southern RI. They require reservations through ReserveAmerica. Over the years, we have had virtually zero luck getting something in that park, unless we look at one of their sites near the highway, away from the ocean.
“The frustrating thing about ReserveAmerica is that it says there are free spots, but when you try to book those, it then says not available. We also try to get canceled spots at 9 a.m. each morning. Again, it says spots are open, but when you click to reserve, those are always already booked. Either hundreds of people are competing at exactly 9 and hitting the enter button at the same time, or their system is broken or hacked. What’s going on here?”
Mike B. also writes us about his New York state experience with ReserveAmerica. “We live in New York state and have to utilize Reserve America for State and DEC park reservations. For years it has been almost impossible for a New York state resident to get a prime site at the park near us, Ausable Point Campground. Almost all the lake sites are reserved by out-of-state/country campers, mostly in Canada.
“The ReserveAmerica system is broken and needs a major overhaul. Complaints to ReserveAmerica, local politicians, etc., all fall on deaf ears. This is not an issue only on our part but is voiced by every New York state camper we know and talk to. Several members of our group no longer camp due to issues such as this. We have not given up yet but we are spending our $$ outside of New York and at campgrounds that do not use ReserveAmerica.”
Campground rates so high they put their RV in storage
Carrie W. has had to, sadly, put their RV into storage. She tells us, “We had to put our RV in storage due to the high monthly RV sites. The cheapest we could find is $850 per month at a run-down campground in Missouri. Plus, it’s the only one that would accept our restored 1983 Winnebago Brave.”
Throwing in the towel after 35 years
Robert S. is going to go to hotels from now on. He hit his last straw. He wrote, “After 35 years of owning four RVs, we have thrown in the towel. Our last RV was a 2017 Winnebago Cambria. It was well-built and we only had one problem with slide-out, which was a clothes closet.
“In May we traveled to Nebraska so my lady could see her hometown after being gone for almost 50 years. We left there and went to visit her brother in Minnesota. We found that most gas stations are designed for cars, not large vehicles. Truck stops only sell diesel in their large truck lanes, so you are left with dealing with inconsiderate people in the gas lines. People would leave their car at the pump and go inside to eat, shop or whatever and block the lane.
“You just couldn’t pull into an RV park and find they had a space. My lady would get the Good Sam RV directory out and start calling in mid-afternoon. We always found a park after a couple of calls. Prices varied from $50 to $100 for one night. We spent almost $2,000 in gas for this trip. We got home and had a letter from the insurance company that the RV’s insurance was going from $89 a month to $150. That was the last straw.
“We decided it was cheaper to drive our car and stay in motels. At 72, the magic of RVing was over. I hope the new buyer enjoys RVing as much as we did in the past.”
Life changes and the hassle is too much
Milton V. had to cancel reservations made in advance and it is too much of a hassle. He told us, “To reserve a ‘decent’ campsite versus ‘just any site,’ we are having to reserve from six months to a year ahead. As a result, due to life’s changes, we end up canceling or not being able to show up as scheduled for probably 25-30% of our reservations. As we are in our late 70s, the hassle has become too much and we will be selling our travel trailer and quitting camping.”
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 don’t use the campground amenities but have to pay for them anyway!” Can you relate?