Saturday, December 9, 2023


RVer quits camping after 20 years – ‘too much entitlement.’ Plus, the most RV-unfriendly state

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.

Need a backup plan—Camping in National Forests is virtually impossible

Peni H’s. plans have gone astray. She’s finding that first-come, first-served state parks, and boondocking in parking lots are just not working out. Peni writes, “I’m currently on a trip in Angels Camp area in California. I’ve tried to do the National Forest campsites. Go online and all it says is first-come, first-served, and by the time I get to the campsite, usually by 1:00 or 2:00, all the campsites have ‘Reserved’ signs on them.

“I go to another campground and the same thing happens. Right now I’m up in the big trees area and discovered that the National Forest has closed some of the campgrounds early for the season. These campsites were first-come, first-served, but the campsite is closed even though on the website it does not show that. Trying to stay in National Parks versus a campsite on this particular trip has been virtually impossible.

“California state parks are not an option because as of now they do not allow dogs. The new no-dog policy went into effect throughout all of California state parks. California lands are not BLM lands, so staying on them and trying to dry camp is not an option up here. Therefore, I’ve been stuck with trying to find at least a campsite because in this section of California, you cannot go to a parking lot and park overnight.

“The stark reality is if you don’t have a backup plan from boondocking in a parking lot or staying in a National Park, you have to stay at an RV park, and that is if you can get in. I paid $75 for one night at a rundown RV park because we had been driving for two hours to find a place to park. We travel in a Winnebago Travato, so it’s not like we have to have a lot of space.”

Plans ahead and still spends hours on the phone

L B. struggles with getting sites, particularly on the weekend. “We’re full-timers. On average we reserve our spots as soon as we have a travel plan. There are two things we struggle with, one is finding parking on a weekend night, and the second is finding a park that has no cancellation fees. This leads to hours on the phone to find a park outside our route that belongs to a nice mom-and-pop. The rising costs are ridiculous and cramping our lifestyle, but we added solar a couple of years ago so if needed we can boondock. We still work full time so it helps to have 50 amps, but we’ll be okay with just solar.”

The most RV-UNfriendly state

Debbie L. has been traveling a lot and says Nebraska is the most unfriendly state for RVers. She wrote, “We are almost home after leaving on May 15 and driving to Alaska with our travel trailer. I only made one reservation for the entire trip and that was for Denali Park. The most we paid for any site anywhere was $75, in downtown Anchorage over the 4th of July weekend. We boondock when we can but are limited by the size of our fresh water tank. In our opinion, the most RV-UNfriendly state is Nebraska. No boondocking allowed and payment required just to enter their wildlife preserve areas/parks/etc.”

Quit camping after 20 years

Kathi W. just camped for a month but is now calling it quits. She says, “We just returned from a month-long trip to the UP. We had reservations almost a year in advance. We stayed at state parks, county parks, city parks, mom-and-pop places on this trip. There were issues on the road and missed one night at a county park. We called to let them know we would be a day late getting there. When we pulled in there was a couple discussing moving to our site because they thought it would be a better site. If we had been any later getting there we would have found someone on our site. At a mom-and-pop campground, a family was camped a few spaces up from us and the dad and young son would go to the bathroom behind the RV. With the type of ‘campers’ out there we decided to quit camping after 20 years. Too much entitlement and ‘rules-don’t-apply-to-me’ attitudes.”

Forced to leave

Carl B’s. rig is over 10 years old and he may have to leave his site because of it. He shares, “Here at Horn Rapids RV Resort in Richland, WA, rates are also going up from $510 a month to $625 a month. All RVs that are 10 years old are being asked to leave. We have a new owner. I would guess rates will be going higher than $625 in the next few years.”

Quit staying at Sun Outdoors

Michael R. wrote about overcrowding and overcharging. “We are finding campgrounds are overcharging and overcrowded. On the East Coast, a lot of campgrounds are being taken over by Sun Outdoors, and their prices are ridiculous and the grounds are a mess. Our site two years ago had 12″ of grass and large holes in the roads and campsites. We had made reservations for the same time the following year and canceled. They asked why we canceled. We told them the price was too high and the grounds are a mess. So we have eliminated staying at any Sun Outdoor parks.”

Covid campers thought RVing is cheap… NOT!

Stephen M. says that it is the cost slowing them down, not crowding. “It’s not so much the overcrowding that slows my wife and me down, it’s the price of gas! Couple that with increasing campground fees and you could be looking at a daily increase of nearly $50 for your budget. Just as no one really wants to pay $5 for a Big Mac when it used to cost less than a dollar, no one wants to pay for increased camping fees. Owner/operators have no choice either. It’s pay up or shut down! Rising energy costs and other increased fees are passed on to the consumer. Everyone has their hand out and it’s up to us as consumers to fill those hands, like it or not! Covid campers looked at camping as a ‘cheap’ way to live. I don’t think they really sat down and thought it through very carefully.”

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: RVer warns: Just because you have a reservation doesn’t mean a park can’t change the price last-minute!


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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Ann (@guest_260378)
28 days ago

I camp full time. I never pay to camp and I camp miles away from people, all over the West. I do not want any sights or sounds of other campers where I camp and it’s not hard to find. People in this article are truly bizarre.

Randy (@guest_259910)
1 month ago

I also disagree on the Nebraska RV unfriendliness. Recently traveled thru the state, mostly along I-80. We easily found two city related RV parks. $20/30 with elec and/or water hookup and at least one with a dumpstation (asking only a donation fee). Sure state parks probably require a pass, but many states do. I will say that trailer parking at many rest areas leaves something to be desired.

My only question on an earlier comment is where are the millions of acres of BLM lands? Searching BLM site for a map and Nebraska is not in the exclusive list.

Mitzi Agnew Giles and Ed Giles (@guest_259906)
1 month ago

One of the financial drains on campground owners, according to conversations with a couple of them, is repeatedly digging and unblocking the septic tanks because people keep flushing their supposedly flushable tush wipes. Waste water engineers aren’t real happy about them either. I don’t flush any products heavier than toilet paper.

Diane (@guest_259671)
1 month ago

The first paragraphs in this article almost sent me into a panic! I have a reservation at a California State Park next week and I am bringing my dog! I am from out of State. I searched the California State Park website and dogs are absolutely allowed! Here is a quote from their RULES, “ANIMALS, including cats, can not be turned loose in park units. All animals, other than grazing animals, must be under immediate physical control. Dogs must be on a tended leash no more than 6 feet or confined in an enclosed vehicle, tent or pen. Unless posted to the contrary, dogs, other than those that assist the permanently disabled, are prohibited on trails, beaches, and wherever posted.”

James Mitchell (@guest_259646)
1 month ago

What I am seeing now is COE Campgrounds are not allowing booking because they do not have Camp Hosts to run the place.
Allatoona Lake GA

Last edited 1 month ago by James Mitchell
Lorelei (@guest_259609)
1 month ago

I pretty much avoid California, but if they enforce the leash rule, good for them. I’m really tired of dogs trying to get to mine; it’s really rude to turn dogs loose. I continue to carry a big stick to back them off us.

Backcountry164 (@guest_259602)
1 month ago

Why even share the ridiculous Nebraska story?? There are hundreds of millions of acres of BLM land in Nebraska. There’s even a national forest, the only national forest in the US that’s completely man made. So the idea that you can’t boondock there is ridiculous. I’ve done it myself. And most states charge a fee to use state parks/rec areas. I would have assumed they all do so how is this woman so clueless??

Keith Weitzman (@guest_259508)
1 month ago

What an irresponsible piece of reporting. The quote that California State Parks do not allow dogs is completely wrong. Dogs are allowed if on a leash. That is reasonable, considering that some owners allow their pets to run free and do not pick up after them. There are plenty of problems with campgrounds, not the least of which involve higher costs. But I’ve seen too many boondocking sites that have been ruined by people who burn pallets, leave trash and broken glass, stay too long, cut their own trails, and generally think they should be able to live anywhere they want in their blue tarp-covered leaky trailer with their six dogs.

Mia (@guest_259490)
1 month ago

California State parks do let dogs in,there are some rules,like they have to be on a leash. Go ahead and google the rules. As for the behavior of guests at RV parks,there is a breakdown of our society and it’s spilled over to horrid behaviors at campgrounds. It’s uncivilized and shocking.

Kenny (@guest_259523)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mia

Have experienced everything that I’ve read here, and then some, after 3 1/2 yr.s of r/v lifestyle. Some people weren’t raised right and are incapable of being decent citizens.

Cancelproof (@guest_259473)
1 month ago

I’ll never quit RVing. You’ll have to pry my RV keys from my cold dead hands. LOL. I get that changes can be tough sometimes but I’ll never put that much energy into the whining when I could put that energy into the driving.

I will continue to adjust my plans and planning around our continually evolving lifestyle choice. “Who Moved My Cheese?”

Gigi (@guest_259522)
1 month ago
Reply to  Cancelproof

I haven’t heard “Who moved my cheese?” in over a decade! Love it! And “pry my keys…” good one! I agree with you. We love RVing and don’t do the daily mocha chatta latte so that we can afford to go camping.

Neal Davis (@guest_259460)
1 month ago

Thank you, Nanci! These always are interesting. However, I think they could be much more valuable if the “form” included the area(s) in which the commenter tried to make reservations. Alternately, perhaps just ask the commenter to include that information when they correspond.

rvgrandma (@guest_259423)
1 month ago

Carl is correct about Horn Rapids. The new owner is getting rid of all older than 10 year rigs – makes one feel like trailer trash! Yes they have raised the rents and I hear their goal is to eventually get to $800 a month once they get rid of older and bring in newer.

I am out of there heading to AZ. I am amazed at the number of RV parks here in Pahrump that now have the 10 year rule including casinos, just for a 1 night stay. Been looking at parks in Quartzsite and many of them also have it. That leaves boondocking for us.

Bill Byerly (@guest_259410)
1 month ago

More moaning and groaning statements, and with the standard diverse comments today…Thanks again, Nanci, for this weeks column.

Mary (@guest_259400)
1 month ago

It isn’t true that California State Parks don’t allow dogs! We take our two with us all the time. They aren’t allowed on many of the trails, but that’s to protect the wildlife. This would have been easy to fact check.

Mia (@guest_259491)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mary

Agree! Native Californian and dog owner here.

Mikal H (@guest_259363)
1 month ago

We love RVing in Nebraska…and no, I’m not a resident defending my state.

In early summer this year we spent nearly a month in Nebraska. Campground rates were very reasonable ($25 FHU 50 amp at one huge city park and $35 at a private park with exceptional WIFI!) I think $40 a night was the most we paid at Sioux City, NE’s exceptional city park and our sites (stayed there twice) were huge! Not only that, but this state is still full of friendly down-to-earth residents, young and old, that make us feel at home. I’d take Nebraska any day over many other places we’ve been.

Steve H (@guest_259409)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mikal H

Agree! Nebraska has two COE lakes with inexpensive campgrounds, NE Natl. Forest has a cg. with electric hookups (rare for USFS cgs.!), and there are many city and county parks with campsites. The state also has recreation area campgrounds as well as state park cgs. In fact, the nicest county park cg. we have ever stayed in is the Hall County cg., just off I-80 in Grand Island.

Try getting into a Colorado State Park without paying! Chatfield SP and Cherry Creek SP near Denver charge $10 for a day pass just to enter the parks. And that applies to residents, as well as non-residents.

Bud (@guest_259353)
1 month ago

I suggest renaming this column “Delusional Campground Whining.”

– Nebraska is unfriendly to RVers because they charge admission to State Parks. (There are a lot of states that are apparently “unfriendly” to RVers)
– Big Macs used to cost less than a dollar (yeah, 40 years ago).
– California State Parks don’t allow dogs (You must use a leash and just can’t take them on trails/beaches)
– Complaining that RV parks charge cancellation fees (at least that’s a new one for this column)

BTW, don’t take this as a dig at you Nanci. I think you do great work and know I’m in for a well-written, well-researched, and balanced story when I see your byline.

Thomas D (@guest_259349)
1 month ago

Carl B is looking at it wrong
$625 a month is a lot of money, $7500 a year. But look at it another way. $20 a day. That figue is an impossible dream. That number is the minimum an overnight site ha s gone UP.
Another thing, just because an rv is 10 years old does not mean you can’t be at a particular campgrounds. My 1985 class c is now38 years old and only once have I been asked “how old is it”? I really think they couldn’t believe me that it’s still running. I have a friend that has to send photos of his Newmar to get into a “resort” in Florida. He does and no problem. His is around 14yo.

Duane (@guest_260040)
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas D

It depends on the campground. Some strictly to the 10-yr rule. Others are more realistic, and look at it before saying it can, or cannot, stay. No rule is universal, nor universally enforced.

Bob P (@guest_259347)
1 month ago

If Carl B thinks WA rates are high he better not got FL and I’d like to know where Stephen M ever bought a Big Mac for less than a dollar, they were over $3 when they were introduced.

Joe (@guest_259367)
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob P


Robert (@guest_259392)
1 month ago
Reply to  Joe

Big Mac debuted in 1967 for $.45 cents

Elliot (@guest_259448)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert

True! I WORKED in one of the first McDonald’s in 1967 that was “honored”, (meaning ordered), to debut the Big Mac in Chicago.

Bill (@guest_259450)
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert

In 1960 it was $0.45 for a “three course meal” – hamburger, fries, and a milk shake!

Tsippi (@guest_259324)
1 month ago

I love RVTravel, but I wish it would fact check occasionally outrageous claims and call out some folks lack of perspective. As an example, this article claims California state campgrounds do not allow dogs. That is ridiculous misinformation. California state campgrounds allow dogs. And as far as the one person quitting camping because of two minor incidents: take it from a person whose parents owned a trailer park in a resort town 40-60 years ago: there have always been a few losers in these places. As with most things in life, you just have to take the occasional bad with the overwhelming amount of good.

Mikal H (@guest_259359)
1 month ago
Reply to  Tsippi

Yep…some restrictions but allowed in campgrounds. From the Cali state park website:

“Dogs are welcome in the designated campgrounds, on designated roads where vehicles are allowed, and on the trail from the Visitor Center to the Campground. For the protection of wildlife and your dog, they are not allowed in the backcountry, on trails, or in the wildflower fields. Please keep your dog calm and quiet.”

Warren G (@guest_259361)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mikal H

Thanks for checking on that. It seemed hard to believe.

Karen (@guest_259391)
1 month ago
Reply to  Mikal H

So far this has been almost the exact statement I’ve read from other states/ national parks. I don’t feel that’s a big deal nor a deal breaker. I travel with 2 littles n have enjoyed many parks.

Backcountry164 (@guest_259607)
1 month ago
Reply to  Tsippi

That’s what the comment section is for…

ccg (@guest_259300)
1 month ago

Wait, California parks don’t allow dogs? Since when? I was at Asilomar over the weekend, very dog friendly, even the beach! Just not in the historic buildings. Here’s a list of state parks that allow dogs.

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