Saturday, September 23, 2023


Reader says: ‘Campgrounds should be under investigation for price gouging’

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.

Campgrounds and RVs are far superior to the “good ol’ days”

Bob L. has been RVing for a long time and sees a lot of improvements in RVs and campgrounds. He writes, “I’ve been an RVer most of my adult life, over 50 years. I find campgrounds to be far superior to what they used to be. When I started, ‘big rig’ was defined as anything more than 32′ long. Today, Class C motorhomes are longer and fifth wheels are like small houses. The rigs themselves now include equipment to make living day to day easier, and I never remember such luxury as an inverter even available until the 1990s.

“While it is much more expensive, I find this lifestyle very possible now in my 70s. Even at this advanced age, I find the RV lifestyle exciting and adventurous. I look forward to my next adventure, even though it may include laundry service, concrete parking, full hookups… all things not even available when I started. So, while boondocking is still very pleasing, having these rigs and comforting amenities at campgrounds keep us older folks out there.”

Campground sold and everyone was kicked out

Beverly S. tells us what the change in ownership did to the RV park she was at. She says, “It’s getting worse in our area. Randolph, Cleburne counties, Alabama. Most private owned
RV campgrounds are crowded. Ours wasn’t, but the price would go up every year when we tried to pay. Now, it has been sold. We all have been kicked out. Renovation for two years. Concrete pads, paved roads, playground, laundry, restrooms, etc. Lots will start at $5K. Most renters are older. Can’t afford. So sad.”

Campground owner and RVer sees both sides of the story

Katie D. is a campground owner and sees her utilities and insurance prices soaring as well as campground rates. She says, “I am not only an RVer, but I also own a campground. I see both sides to this story. As far as cost and raising prices; our utilities and insurance have doubled in the last six years. Our sites are all $50 and under. We do not like raising prices, but with the huge RVs with two air conditioners and washer/dryer units, our electric bills are killing us. We have 20 seasonal sites and 46 daily, along with five cabins. Our park is very busy but not packed-in like other parks. I think that people should try to understand that owning a park is hard work. It’s stressful and expensive—give the owners a break.”

Investigate public and private campgrounds for price gouging

Katherine R. has seen monthly RV lot rents double and is asking someone to investigate. Here are her thoughts: “I honestly think that the public and private campgrounds should be under investigation for price gouging. All of this high demand for camping space and lot rent has jumped up since C-19. When I first bought a travel trailer, rent was at $415 before Covid-19 and as of 2023 rent has jumped up to $899. And mind you, it is just 30 amps. It’s over $1,000 a month if it’s 50 amps.

“People bought RVs due to the fact Covid-19 had people losing their homes and, in most cases, jobs. Where was the government assistance for the campers to survive? I live in a year-round campground for seven years and just found out that Virginia will not let you buy land and then live on it in your RV. WTH? You’re paying TAXES on land you own but the state tells you you can’t live in an RV and you’re still paying TAXES to the city. Everyone winning except the ones that need to survive.”

Editor’s note: When checking laws in Virginia, I found a number of different views. Some were no problem, others said okay but only with septic installed, and others were more along the lines of yes, you can park but don’t you dare live in it! Always check local laws and ordinances before buying land and planning to live on it.

Dream of retiring and traveling now only a dream

Leslie E. is seeing their dream of travel being eroded by rising prices. It used to be affordable. She says, “We are retired, meaning I want to travel. I don’t want to be tied down to having to make reservations months ahead of time. I want the freedom to be able to stay somewhere if we find something of interest or move on down the road. Camping used to be an affordable family experience. Now with the high cost of campgrounds, most families can only afford a couple of days compared to the week it used to cost. $40 a night adds up to $1,200 a month. Most places now are $60 and higher. State and county parks that were affordable are no longer. The dream we had of retiring and traveling our beautiful country is becoming only a dream now.”

Reader says, “Want to camp, not be thrown into Romper Room”

Joe C. is disappointed in the parents, kids, and campgrounds. He writes, “I’m a first-year RV camper. I’ve tent camped as a child and young adult and have envied the RVers for having a comfortable basecamp to relax and escape inclement weather and we jumped into the RV family in 2023. I have been fairly disappointed.

“Campgrounds have become playgrounds for parents to release their children into the public and unattended. Where are the dads teaching the kids how to set up camp and learn to grill and CAMP? Now it’s a chance for parents to tell the kids to leave them alone. Meanwhile, the campground roads are racetracks for kids on e-bikes in extremely large groups. We want to camp to get away, not be tossed into a romper room. Campgrounds in my opinion could look to have more seclusion and privacy. Isn’t that the point?”

Planning ahead is vital

Cindy T. is used to making reservations and says to plan ahead. “We’ve been in the habit of making reservations for desired camping trips for decades. Early on it was with our camping club. Then as the popularity of camping grew for most of our trips, now weekend reservations are hard to get these days. Planning ahead is vital. You have to be online the day it opens up. Last minute (say a month before Labor Day for the holiday) becomes challenging. (Not impossible and not at a preferred park but a decent place.) As retirees, most of our camping is done during the week, Sunday through Friday. Reservations are still needed (but last minute are easy to get) as it seems State Park campgrounds cannot sell empty sites because of the reservation system. One-night stays on cross-country trips have still been relatively easy to get.”

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: Campgrounds price out the average RVer – ‘see what happens’!

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.


  1. I’d like to comment on “just get a job.” I’ve been disabled for 30+ years, not beyond my ability to take care of my basic needs but beyond my ability to work. Anyone who receives disability or Medicare benefits must keep in mind how much real income they might make that would be either disqualifying for SSD, or put them into a higher tax bracket for *all* earned income. Volunteering to reduce park fees may net more discretionary income (until IRS decides to track and tax, anyway).

  2. Someone needs to explain how the real world works to Katherine. Or was it Karen??
    Price gouging?? Seriously?? Sorry, but camping isn’t something anyone needs to survive. She seems to understand that the demand skyrocketed. Without an equal increase in the supply, obviously the cost is going to increase. This is something a high school student should easily understand.

  3. Katherine R doesn’t seem to know the definition of “Price Gouging.”

    It’s generally not applicable unless a disaster has been declared and businesses raise the price of their products to exorbitant or excessive rates to take advantage of the disaster declaration.

    A campground can charge whatever they want. They just can’t/shouldn’t raise the price excessively during a disaster.

  4. “Where was the government assistance for the campers to survive? ”

    What government assistance are you talking about? Unless, of course, you came across the border illegally.

  5. I just made a reservation for Valley Of Fire State Park for two weeks in December and the new reservation system is a jacked-up mess. I am a Nevada state resident and I have an All Access pass which waives most fees. I reserved a site with electricity and water and it cost me $420.00, paid in full. The total should have been $145.00. I paid the fees because I’m concerned the park will fill up before they get the bugs worked out. I’m hoping they will adjust the reservation but I might just have to pay it and I’m angry.

    • Right. With a “geezer pass” or the All Access pass your charge should be $140 ($10/day for the hookup charge). l’m a NV resident as well and am deeply saddened by the switch to a reservation only system being implemented with our state parks. This is progress?

  6. Campgrounds are doing what all other businesses do. It’s the American Way. Do you think corporations get rich by breaking even?

    The principle of demand pricing (rising prices based on rising demand) is basically like an auction. As long as there are buyers willing to pay more…guess what? The price goes up. Which means if enough of our fellow campers are willing to pay more to be first-in line, have an exact spot guaranteed, be nearest the lake, and have all the amenities: those campers are setting the price. Blame them. CG owners are just responding to the idiocy of our greed.

    In defense of the CG owners — having been a workcamper with a view of their side — it takes workers longer to clean sites now because guests don’t know/don’t care about the “pack in-pack out” rule. The phones are ringing more so more reservation help is needed…and setting up an online system ain’t cheap! Where we used to have a site used infrequently during the week, those sites are increasingly occupied (more maintenance/cleaning expense). My utility bills have certainly increased, so I imagine CGs have as well. Last time my plumber or electrician was here, I was shocked. No difference for CG owners.

    As for gouging: here is an interesting article about what is wrong with those laws — But bottom line is still the same: we are trying to regulate greed.

    • Katherine…price controls never work. In fact, they act to reduce investment in the very “product” the guberment tries to control thus further restricting supply…which adds more price pressure.

      There is nothing to investigate unless it’s RVers paying through the nose and encouraging the abnormally high prices. 😉

      I recently did bookings for a month of travel. One RV Park, that was absolutely NOTHING special, and in fact sub-par in everything except location, wanted $79 a night for spots so close your neighbor’s sewer would literally be under your picnic table, if you stayed there. Almost $100 a night weekends! Even though it was in a very prime location just outside an Eastern national park and very close to a number of popular historical sites, I passed and booked a little further away in a wonderful family run, well-shaded campground for far, far less. I just refuse to support RV Parks that are asking those kinds of rates…period. If those parks had no bookings we’d see their prices falling hard and fast. WE hold the keys.

  7. Personally we have only found a small percentage of campgrounds that are overpriced in our opinion. We understand inflation etc, but still find most places we stay to be much more affordable than hotels. We plan to continue camping.

  8. I know what I am going to say will rub some people the wrong way, but I totally agree with one of the people in today’s article, specifically the campground owner and RVer. Prices for everything are rising. Not that I play golf, but compare greens fees from 30 years ago to today’s, or the price of fuel, food, etc. I am personally getting tired of hearing complaints about campground costs. RVing is NOT a necessity like food, shelter, or clothing; it is a hobby, diversion, pleasure, escape, or whatever you want to call it, but not being an RVer is not life-ending or even life-threatening. What are your priorities? If RVing is at the top of your list, then accept the fact that like everything else, it may be more expensive and less convenient (need for reservations) than in the “good old days.” If you cannot accept what you perceive as negatives, then find some other form of enjoyment. Higher costs and campsite availability are and likely will be the price of continuing RVing if that is what you CHOOSE to do. If not, perhaps cease RVing and as the bumper sticker says Quit Yer Bitchin’.

    • Well said and agreed. Price increases are in every sector of our economy and if folks don’t agree with it then maybe RV’ing is not for them. Perhaps the CG owner could install electrical meters on all their serviced sites and charge guests directly according to their usage with indicated current price/KW hour being charged to the CG. There will be some up front expenses but this should alleviate some of the cost for electricity especially from big rigs.

      • Agree, back in 2016 the first time we went to FL we were on an electric meter and have been on a meter ever since. The campgrounds explain it that short term campers pay a fee based on how much electricity they may use. Long term users (30 days or more) pay a lower daily rate but are put on a meter for their electrical use. So if your unit is a high electrical user you pay for it.

      • I would have no issue with that and have a big rig…with three ACs. Stayed in a park in Southern Idaho when it was over 100 degrees every day for the week we were there, so the ACs were cranking. Was offered a flat daily rate everything included or a site rate + metered electric. I took the latter and came out WAY ahead.

        • Exactly. As the owner of a small travel trailer without slide outs, I was pretty annoyed that we have been paying for the double AC systems of rigs nearly double our size. Where is the fairness in that? Electric meters would cost money. But at the very least — just charge the larger rigs more and the smaller rigs less.

        • People like you come out “way ahead” because you’re being subsidized by the guy in the tent who only charges his phone but pays the same rate.
          No clue why anyone would be proud of that. Personally, I’d be ashamed to admit it. But of course, I’m smart enough to realize that’s what’s happening…

    • Respectfully, please consider those of us to whom RVing IS a necessity. I live in my travel trailer full-time. I am a 63 year-old widow who got priced out of the Las Vegas rental market. I have a nice rig and I’m not trailer trash. I spend most of my time volunteering at national parks and refuges to avoid the cost of high RV camping fees. In between gigs, I need to stay at campgrounds (not RV parks – too expensive). I just paid almost three times the normal price for a nothing special campground spot. I simply can’t afford it.

      • Lisa, sorry for the struggles you face financially and in finding affordable parking for your HOME, not being used for recreation but in fact, for permanent shelter. Most of us here are seasonal or weekenders so our perspective differs from your own but as a community, we are filled with love for our fellow man. Keep us apprised of your situation, we care.

      • Like you I live in my MH. My late husband and I moved into it in 2004 to start our ‘golden years’ dream of travel and Workamping. Had to park it for the last 10 years due to the course of his illness. I can’t afford to rent an apartment. Since my MH is paid off I only pay lot rent so it is half or more of what an apartment would be.

        Now that in a month I am heading out not sure where/what I will do. All I know is I will head south to AZ.

      • Lisa, you forgot to explain how you were being forced to live in Las Vegas. Because there are obviously much, much, much, much cheaper places to live. The idea that living out of an RV is the cheapest option is utterly ridiculous.
        You can afford to volunteer your time but can’t afford to pay rent?? Interesting. My widowed mom is 10 years older than you but decided to get a job because she wanted to stay in her big house. Oddly, she doesn’t expect anyone to reduce her bills or expenses just because she’s alone now…

        • I’d been considering moving into an RV full-time, as maintenance and homeowners insurance are now beyond my means. Then learned how challenging such a lifestyle could be, physically as well as financially. Then I learned that not only were there few parks or campgrounds w/good svs available anywhere close to my preferred
          location, long-term rentals were discontinued – 14-30 days max. I don’t understand the “3X normal” comment … maybe 3X what it used to be? I’m trying to figure out my best options – may have to bring in housemates, hard for someone who prefers to live alone, but reality hits hard. Pets also limit my choices.

        • Check around and see how few parts of the country are 4X “much cheaper” to live in. Even in small-midsized suburbs, rent has been increasing as dramatically as home prices and mortgage rates … for quite awhile. More severe weather events are also impacting where we live: ferocious hurricanes, heavy flooding, severe drought, devastating tornadoes, significant snowfall, et al., are serious considerations for us all.

          I came back to Florida nearly 20 years ago, not to retire or for the sunshine, but to be available to help my parents who had health issues. I hate everything about the state, always have. Now I can’t afford to stay, but can’t afford to move and live many places any cheaper, either.

          I’m still new on this site, but geesh, people, how about being a bit more compassionate … and remember, we never know the whole story from a couple of paragraphs in a comments section. Please be nicer (most of you are very nice, and helpful, but you others, wow).

    • Oh, Carl. Thank you – thank You – thankyou for expressing my thoughts. Price gouging? High Prices? bla bla bla
      My Levis once cost $3.50. My dad’s annual wages then were somewhere under $5,000. I think the cost of Levis has gone up, but I’ll bet people make more a year now. People want their cake and eat it too, but the price of that has gone up too.

      • Back in the late ’50s and early ’60s, I worked at the concession stands at Green Lake in Seattle on weekends during school and during the summer. I made $1.00/hr. I got an offer to work at the concession stands at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle for $1.10/hr. Couldn’t pass that up! Woo hoo!😁 Have a good night, Kelly. 😀 –Diane at


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