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.
Reader asks about no-shows, “Do you actually think the campground does that on purpose?”
Bryan H. has a comment on open sites. He writes, “It’s a full campground when you call, but sites open when you arrive? Do you really think the ownership/management does that on purpose? It is amazing how many reservations don’t show up… We don’t charge for reservations, but next year it will be different.”
What a turn-off!
Tina C. has been reading about the poor quality of trailers and they have decided to keep their pop-up. She says, “We have a pop-up camper and often talk about upgrading to an under-30-foot trailer… but after reading about all the poorly built trailers, then the cost of the trailer itself on top of the high prices at the parks?? What a turn-off… Probably just going to keep the pop-up for local trips and go into hotels for the rest. Also, we live in Houston, and trying to book a state park campsite at places like Galveston is impossible…”
“Compromise on your expectations”
Chris L. traveled 3,616 miles using a variety of camping and overnight spots. He reports, “Made a winter run south (from Delaware) using Harvest Hosts, state parks, friends’ sites (they are also Boondockers Welcome), KOAs and Cracker Barrel. Went all the way to KOA in Sugarloaf Key (2-week stay reserved a year in advance) and back. 3,616 miles in our truck camper with a toad. Plan ahead and compromise on your expectations!”
Traveler uses their RV like a motel room
Mike M. thinks campgrounds should have two areas: one for travelers and one for vacationers. He writes, “We are travelers and not campers! Our average length of stay is four days at the most and, as another person said, we use the campground like a motel: Arrive, set up (unpack), sleep, awaken, leave for the area attractions, return, eat, watch TV, sleep, repeat. Love’s RV-like sites are what is needed in the resorts. One part for vacationers and campers, another for travelers that don’t plan to use all the amenities.”
Do day trips
Janet N. has a system for seeing the USA. She writes, “We are the ones who travel to see the USA. We locate a centralized campground, and stay 3-7 nights and do day trips. We pull a Cougar TT. We’ve been in the southwest twice on over-5-week trips. Now we’re in New England for two weeks. No problem whatsoever booking FHU sites.”
What’s the problem?
Roger M. writes that he finds sites and doesn’t understand the crowding problem. “I don’t understand the problem. I just booked four different campgrounds for my trip to FMCA Convention from Akron, OH, to Gillette WY. Each was my first choice and had the 30A hook-up I wanted and two have swimming pools the wife wants. Had a number of different sites to choose from for each night. Next week I will be booking for the return and fully expect the same results.”
Often had to stay in a hotel
Granolah H. reports that it has really changed since Covid. They explain, “I have camped since I was born (got my parents kicked out of a campground before I was 1). Before Covid, I could take trips anywhere with no reservations. Just stop and find a spot when I got tired, usually somewhere beautiful, even in California in the summer.
“I went out on my first trip after Covid and was shocked at both the prices and the inability to find a space. I am tiny, on solar and tankless, but it didn’t matter. And no campground would reserve a site for more than a day.
“RV parks were full and cost more than a hotel room. So I often stayed in a hotel instead as it was late, and ended up in a dry base camp on top of a mountain in Oregon. The drive to meet family was long. I am not a fan. Most of these people seem to be clueless as to what it truly means to camp. I have found most to be rude, sloppy and trampling all over the wilderness.”
Impose a fee on no-shows
Bill S. talked with county park staff about no-shows at the park. He writes, “Florida campsites are famous for this. at Fort DeSoto county park, many campsites were empty on multiple visits. Park staff said that due to their reservation system, they don’t know if someone’s coming or not so the site gets unused. Possible solution: Impose a fee on no-shows.”
Booked reservations whenever they needed them
Paul M. guesses he is just lucky! He says, “We picked up our new 25′ motorhome on May 5th in Las Vegas. Since then we have driven 4,300+ miles. First from Nevada to North Carolina (where we live), and then from North Carolina to Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and back. For both trips, we were able to book campground reservations for whenever we needed them.
“In September we’re heading to a rally in Manitoba, Canada, and then on to Massachusetts for a wedding and then back to North Carolina. Already have everything booked. We even managed to get a one-night stay for the Friday night of Labor Day weekend. We try to be flexible; if we can’t find a campground we’ll look for a Harvest Host location. We’ve also done a three-night, mid-week, trip to Falls Lake Recreation Area, a local North Carolina state park. When we made the reservation we had a choice of sites to choose from. I guess we’re just lucky.”
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: Reader writes: “I would happily pay $800 a night to camp to keep the ‘casual interest’ campers out!”