Campground Crowding. Discussion for August 22, 2020

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crowded campgrounds

More people than ever are taking up RVing. Across America, RV dealers’ inventory is being swept clean. These newbies have determined that RVing is the safest way to travel in our pandemic times.

But there’s a problem: Even before these hordes of new RVers entered the scene, campground crowding was already a problem, especially with commercial RV parks, where more and more “campers” were staying for a season or even year-round. Camping sites that were once available for short-term stays gradually disappeared. And the situation is getting worse for RV travelers who like to move about, not just stay in one place for months on end.

Here are some observations from the readers of RVtravel.com and from the Facebook group “Crowded Campgrounds Discussion.” Through all our discussion, we hope to find some ways to continue enjoying the RV lifestyle despite the vastly increased competition for places to stay.

NEBRASKA STATE PARKS
“We are in central Nebraska and camp at state parks. If you don’t have a reservation, you will unlikely find a spot. Nebraska State Parks before COVID, you could reserve one year in advance, and now it is only 30 days in advance. Even the first come first serve sites are almost impossible to get, unless you want to pay for 2 to 3 days prior to your actual arrival. One of the new rules that was implemented was you had to have a sleeping unit on the site, you could not just put a tag up and reserve. That doesn’t curtail many, as they just put up a child’s tent or a little “pup” tent! That is considered a sleeping unit. We make it work and are camping every weekend!” — Karen S.

TEXAS CROWDS
“We stopped off at 4 commercial RV parks and two state parks between Austin and the Davis Mountain State Park in West Texas in July 2020. Every park was fully booked during our visit. Fortunately, we had made prior reservations. Also in July calling ahead for September, 2020, reservations in NM and CO, the parks we contacted had few spots available for mid to late Sept. 2020. We were left to pick and choose based on availability dates rather than our preferred camping dates. Selfishly, I found myself wishing that the many “new” COVID INSPIRED RV newbies will eventually go back to their pre-COVID forms of vacationing. But then, no matter, I’m not going have a bad day RV’n. Once we are down the road in our 24 ft. Class C Minnie Winnie – camping, hiking, and sight seeing, we are always happy campers. And so it is.” —Joe L.

FRUSTRATED IN MONTANA
“We camp at Wade Lake, Montana. It was a quiet, peaceful campground. The weekends were busy with a full campground and lots of day trippers, on the weekends. The road in is about 6 miles of rough dirt, with plenty of cows to keep one awake. For the last 4 years, the day trippers have overrun the place and park all over. They’re loud, rude, let their kids and dogs run free. They go through your campground and, even use your picnic table for their lunch. Three years ago, the longtime camp hosts gave up the job. The next year was okay: the vault toilets were clean and the garbage picked up. The next year was worse, and this year, the camp host showed up a couple time a week to fill the toilet paper. There was no garbage pickup. That’s hard when you stay there for 16 days. This year there were 4 sites with camps set up and no one stayed in them. I love that place! Birdwatching, canoeing. But the peace and quiet are gone. We won’t go back. Trying to find other sites doesn’t work. Every campground in SW Montana is reserved. We are senior citizens and our camping days are going away.” — Jerri L.

UTAH CROWDS AND MORE PEOPLE AT CAMPSITES
“The parks are definitely more crowded this Spring and Summer. I live in Utah and last year I could get by making a reservation a month in advance. That is no longer possible. We usually camp one week out of the month and like most people, we wanted to get out of the house. We’ve found that we have had to settle for less popular campgrounds or boondocking. But, at least we are camping. One thing I have noticed is that there seems to be twice as many people in the campsites as normal. Maybe because sites are so hard to get, people are doubling up with friends. Most campgrounds have a limit of eight people to a site. I’ve seen 10, 12, even 20 people in one site, usually in tents. It makes for a crowded campground. Another trend I’ve noticed is how many people from out of state are camping in Utah. This has always been the norm in the National Parks, but not the state and local parks. Back in April when Utah opened back up its state and local parks, they were crammed with people from neighboring Nevada, Arizona, and California, as those states were still under lock down. This trend has not abated and has continued through the summer. Again, this made for some very crowded campgrounds.” — Susan B.

Please email us with your experiences. If you have not experienced increasing crowding, please let us know. Submit here.

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Ellen
25 days ago

After ten plus years of full-timing, we’re seeing some of the busiest RV traffic ever, with reservations (and extensions of them) harder to get than ever. EVERY manager we’ve talked to this summer told us it’s the busiest they’ve ever seen, even in some of the *usually* less-traveled areas. “Everybody wants to get out after dealing with stay-at-home orders under Covid,” a small business owner in eastern Oregon told us.

One RV dealership where we get propane told us their empty lot wasn’t because of unusually high sales but they’d messed up their ordering. Most RV lots we’ve seen have had plenty of inventory, contrary to what I’ve been reading.

When friends or strangers say they’re thinking about going full-time, I tell them to pick a date and place where they’d like to go and see if they can get a place to stay, just for practice. Just to see how it is out here. These days, making sure you can go where you want when you want is a bigger issue than which RV to buy, I think 🙂

David Schmidt
27 days ago

I founf a great family campground in Lancaster pa. Tucquan family campground. Great location. Features all amenties. Its become a great weekend getaway always has room

Bud Betz
28 days ago

We’re seeing this too. We’re full time traveling across country NW to NE. It’s August and busy. Maybe after Labor Day things will slow down as schools and colleges start classes. Maybe!!!

Donald N Wright
28 days ago

Are there any covid 19 free campgrounds in Death Valley?

Tommy Molnar
28 days ago

Right now, with 130 degree heat, Death Valley campgrounds are ‘camper free’ as well. Just sayin’.