By Nanci Dixon
More people than ever are taking up RVing. These newbies have determined that RVing is the safest way to travel in our pandemic times. The result is campground crowding like never before. In this weekly blog, RV Travel readers discuss their experiences. Maybe we can make some sense of this and find ways to work around the problem.
THIS WEEK, THINGS GOT PERSONAL…
This week, the reality of campground crowding got personal for my husband and me and hit us full force when we had a death in the family and nowhere to stay. We were in Yosemite National Park and there was not enough time to drive the motorhome from there up to the funeral in Illinois. Our next stop was San Francisco, so the plan was to keep our reservation, add some days so we could leave the motorhome, and fly out. Nope. That couldn’t happen. The campground was full for the extra days we needed. There wasn’t even an electric-only spot to keep our stocked-to-the-brim freezer cold. I called around only to be told “Campground full,” “Campground full,” “Campground full.” Some people had more sympathy than others but still could not help. Others, no sympathy at all: “We are not a storage lot.”
Finally, we found one that might be able to fit us in but that meant all the reservations made months before began to fall like dominoes. It became apparent that a four- to five-day disruption was going to disrupt the whole summer. Avenue of the Giants will just need to stay on the bucket list a while longer.
We decided to admit defeat and would start driving to our summer destination and try to find a campground for five days near a city with an airport. The airfares out of small airports were worse than campground fees… well, if I could find a campsite. The funeral got moved out a week, so we started driving north. Still no campsites available to park the motorhome for five days over Mother’s Day weekend. The next step is eating everything out of the freezer and try to dry camp if we can find a spot. The search continues… I’ll keep you posted.
Here are a few observations from our readers.
THEY’RE BACK IN FULL-SWING
Susan A. wrote in and said, “We are currently on a permanent site in a small, 12-acre, campground. At the beginning of the pandemic, the owners were very concerned about their livelihood. Fast forward to this year and they are amazed by the amount of people they are turning away daily. For sure this year will be full of challenges for new RV owners. And to add, PATIENCE will be needed by all.”
THE SEARCH IS A HOBBY
For some people, the hunt for reservations is more of a hobby, a treasure hunt of sorts. Merikay M. shares a positive twist: “We winter at a membership park. As soon as we come off the road in fall we start talking about our next summer travels. I spend hours going over maps, online camping sites, and things-to-do lists. It’s a hobby, not a desperate search. I make key reservations in January and February. Some places will say, ‘Closed. Open for reservations April 1’ or whenever. I keep a list and mark my calendar and call on the ‘open’ day. Several years ago I had a frustrating, but eventually successful time finding an opening at a Florida Keys State park. I now have reservations for all nights for five months starting in June. We never boondock, and never ‘let the wind take us.'”
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES DUE TO CAMPGROUND CROWDING
There has been discussion about RV manufacturers stepping up and building RV parks. Of course, there’s the ensuing discussion: “Do we really want RV manufacturers building parks when we see how poorly they are building new RVs?” Even with the high cost and building code hassles, it may be a good investment.
Elaine P. thinks it could be. “Sounds like creating more campgrounds is a great business opportunity.” Well, get on it, Elaine! 😉
THROWING IN THE TOWEL BECAUSE OF CROWDED CAMPGROUNDS
More and more RVers are just giving it up due to campground crowding. Every week we get comments like Mel’s: “After almost 50 years of RVing, I’ve decided to throw in the towel and quit. The cost of RV parks that we used to stay in have risen every year for the past 4 years. The last time we stayed I had to make a reservation 1 year in advance and had to pay a nonrefundable deposit. Camping sites are crowded and almost impossible to get with any hookups and then for one or two days only. I sold my travel trailer 15 minutes after listing it for sale the day before yesterday. I’m done RVing.”
NO RESERVATIONS? NO PROBLEMS!
Some have found that they can give up the hassle of finding a campsite and still camp. More and more are buying or renting a permanent site and hunkering down.
Sherri E. has found their permanent spot and while they miss the travel, they don’t miss the crowds. “Advancing age and overcrowding on the roads and in the campgrounds has sidelined us. We found an RV campground at Lake Erie that is perfect for us. We keep a permanent spot there and are able to enjoy it all summer long. It is only a 1-hour drive from home. NO hooking up and unhooking and traveling anymore. I actually miss that travel part the most, but still enjoy getting away for a few days in our 5th wheel – even though it doesn’t get on the road anymore.”
Now, some questions for you about campground crowding:
• Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or are you having no problem finding places to stay?
• 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 here.