Saturday, September 30, 2023


East Coast ‘resort’ rates up to $275 a night! Yikes!

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.

Good news! New parks are being built!

Robert T. shared this good news on parks being built. “We live in Springtown, Texas, and around us there are three parks being built. They are small, 8 to 10 spots, but there is another near us that will have more than 150 spots.”

Supply and demand means more parks built, right?

Bob S. says it seems like we are going backward—fewer or no more sites and four times the rate. He explains, “I first read in 2011 after I started a work-from-anywhere job and realized a motorhome was the perfect second office that would allow me to tour our beautiful West. Even then, the lack of readily available camp spots was in the headlines. Back then I thought supply and demand would mean more spots would be built, but not so.

“So, from the beginning, it was clear that advanced planning was required. I make my reservations 6 months to a year in advance. This worked perfectly until three years ago. I found that corporations have taken over most of the popular locations and increased camping prices to the point of being unaffordable for a middle-class salary.

“Last year, a nightly stay at any RV park within 20 miles of Yellowstone, including inside the park, exceeded $100. No weekly or monthly discounts offered. So, there haven’t been too many new spots added in 10 years, but the prices have increased 4-fold. It seems we are going backwards. When Yellowstone opened, only the wealthy could afford to visit. Sadly, it seems that we are approaching that now.”

Yes, reservations take some effort: Be on the website at 12:01 a.m.

Bud B. is on top of making reservations and knows if he isn’t he won’t get the site they want. He writes, “Places we want to go fill up fast. If you aren’t on the phone (at opening time of the business) or website (at 12:01 a.m.) on the first day you can reserve for the dates wanted, the chances of getting a reservation are slim. Especially at popular state campgrounds. So YES, reservations take some effort to get.”

East Coast “resort” rates up to $275! Yikes!

Debbie M. is finding rates going up and up. She is planning ahead and staying in state campgrounds. She writes, “Here on the East Coast, we are finding it easier to stay in state campgrounds IF we book in advance. January 1 we make our reservations for the entire summer. We avoid ‘resorts’ during peak season because rates are up to $275 per night!

“Big companies are buying up small campgrounds and have made it unreasonably expensive for everyone now. They have started offering lower nightly rates. But, beware, they have added $10 per night ‘resort’ fees plus a reservation fee, which in turn keeps the rates just as high as before, or even more expensive. We stick to state parks, which are amazing. We are 40 feet in length. Booking in advance is the way to avoid price gouging and still have fun.”

Difficult to break into snowbird cliques

Phil S. planned well for retirement but not for how difficult it is to make winter reservations. He reports, “Full-time retired couple, mid-70s. Planned well for retirement including 30-year Army career. 100% combat-related disabled.

“No problems planning ahead and driving anywhere in any parks that handle big rigs. Never a problem. Parks are getting more and more crowded all over the U.S. We travel extensively other than in winter, when we hunker down where it’s warm.

“Full winter reservations November–April in warm areas are getting very difficult. We know parks that are only allowing longer reservations and regulars in advance, thereby filling desired winter destinations with long-established snowbird cliques rendezvousing every winter in the hand-picked favorite sites. Leaving slim pickings or eliminating opportunities for anyone else.

“It’s often difficult to break into long-established snowbird cliques. We are real hospitable, friendly, courteous, join-in and pitch-in people just looking to enjoy life and make new lifetime RV friends.

“Costs are ridiculously rising to almost $4K/month with minimum 3-, 4-, or 5-month stays in winter near the Southwest coast of Florida. We chose to go big and the best quality as it is our only home with nothing in storage. We plan to continue living in our ‘home’ after we stop traveling. It’s cheaper to put it on a permanent site than build or buy a home that we don’t need.”

Smaller places are friendlier

Tom M. likes the smaller, friendlier campgrounds. He writes, “We have found that the smaller campgrounds have gotten better. They’re friendly and more accommodating to weekenders or overnight stays. Resort grounds seem to believe they can ask more just because???

“We lean to friendly, smaller grounds. Example: One place was full and they called around for us to find an opening. While another larger campground said they prefer long-term or yearly guests rather than short stays. Oh, and they said ‘good luck.’ My advice: Call around, plan ahead, and/or join clubs or groups to get a better deal.”

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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.

Read last week’s Crowded Campgrounds column: Reader suggests campgrounds should be split: one part for “campers” using amenities, another part for “travelers”


Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


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Thomas D
1 month ago

A year ago eggs were pushing 4$ a doz
Now at $1 a dozen maybe a few cents more

Neal Davis
1 month ago

Thank you, Nanci!

1 month ago

For frequent rv travelers there are now several companies that will find and book your sites. Prices for the service range widely from around $39 to about $80 a plan depending on what options you select. My time is worth something and having to deal with reservations isn’t one of the the things I’d like to do.

Mark Generales
1 month ago

Those folks are the minority and are not significant enough to fuel the industry. RV sales are tanking. Inventories are through the roof. Add the private equity Wall St firms buying mom and pop parks implementing airline “dynamic pricing” schemes and the industry is doomed. Inflation remains, it’ll tank faster than ever. Patience if you have the time. Sell and use auto and hotels if not

Bob P
1 month ago

The solution to price gouging is stay home. I know that’s not why we buy RVs. If everyone boycotts these high priced parks their rates will fall, but that’s kind of like the outrageous prices of new trucks and cars. Some people have far more $$ than sense and are willing to pay exorbitant prices then find out with inflation they can’t afford $1000 per month payments and lose it. Just be patient for a year the prices will be cut once the parks suffer no profits.

1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P

I doubt that prices will come down. Do we actually think the price of milk or eggs will come down? Fruits, vegetables? I don’t get the $1K plus monthly payments when most can’t afford rent payments.

Gary W.
1 month ago
Reply to  G13

The price of eggs came back down.

Mikal H
1 month ago
Reply to  G13

Or “I can’t pay my student loans, but I have a $1000 vehicle payment.”

Kelly R
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P

Bob P, I want to believe like you do about prices having to come down, but if the parks are corporate owned, will they follow downward or do they want to take losses for tax purposes?

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