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, we present a letter from reader Daniel Briggs, who has some ideas not only about the overcrowding, but possible solutions.
I am a fellow RV’er and real estate developer, focused primarily on hotels and apartments. For some time now I have been convinced that a real opportunity exists to pursue campground development. Not only are existing campgrounds becoming more crowded as you point out in your article, but the majority of the campgrounds are functionally obsolete, having been built years before the existence of slides and 40+ foot motorhomes and towables.
I believe also that there is a need for a national chain of campgrounds, similar to Hilton or Marriott, that have strict facilities standards, consistent amenities, a central reservation system and a frequent traveler program. Like a Marriott Courtyard or a Hilton Garden Inn, no matter where the property is located, you would have a good idea beforehand of what to expect in terms of quality and features before you arrived. No more unpleasant surprises like we so frequently encounter when we pull into a campground for the first time.
However, as you know, real estate developments, be they hotels, apartments, shopping centers or campgrounds, need to make economic sense. You cannot build a new campground today with the amenities and modern site characteristics/conveniences that are expected by the RV consumer and only charge rental rates typical of the older campgrounds we are used to.
There is no way to make a new campground with a clubhouse and meeting space, fitness center, swimming pool, dog park, usable WiFi, water feature, etc., work at $40, $50 or even $60 a night. More than likely, rates would need to be $75-$100 a night to generate the type of returns that would attract investors and generate interest from bankers willing to lend money for the project. Those numbers would be applicable to year-round campgrounds. For seasonal campgrounds, rental rates would have to be even higher.
I would really be interested to hear your perspective on this and maybe even the opinions of some of your readers..
And a few observations from our Crowded Campgrounds Group at Facebook.
LOCALS BOOKING UP WEEKENDS
“What should we do about public campgrounds that locals reserve every weekend for entire seasons, shutting out those who want to stay for one or two weeks, leaving the CG mostly empty from Sunday night through Thursday night?” —J.H.
GOOD LUCK FINDING A SITE IN WASHINGTON
“We re-routed our plans last minute due to smoke-filled skies and are heading to Washington State — good luck getting a site at any of the state campgrounds, even after Labor Day. We are heading farther north, since we are due to arrive in Kalispel later, and I am not re-routing those plans.” —L.W.
NOT EVERYONE EXPERIENCING CROWDS
“Just letting everyone know we have only traveled for two days now, on our way to Colorado and Utah. We have had no problems finding spots at RV resorts yet. We stayed overnight in Perry, Ga., and Cropwell, Al. ( I know not the most requested stays.) They have been very nice resorts but as others have stated most spots have long-term residents. We reserved ahead but finding it would not have been a problem had we not. Hopefully our luck will stick with us.” —S.N.
Are you finding more and more campgrounds booked up? Or are you having no problem finding places to stay? Please use the form below to tell us what you’ve experienced.