Tuesday, November 28, 2023


Campground crowding. Discussion for September 12, 2020

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.

Here are a few observations from our readers.


Are the days of no reservations, drifting where the winds take you, “oh, we’ll drive until we’re tired then stop” over? It seems they may be. Here’s what reader Ingrid Hubbard says, “We’re fortunate to have family with property in northern Wisconsin where we’re able to park the RV for the summer. Not wanting to overstay our welcome, I wanted to plan some out-and-back trips into northern Minnesota and the UP. Unfortunately, by the time I tried booking anything this past March, I was already too late. We’ve been full-time since 2013 and I’ve never run into so many challenges. Seems our free-wheeling way of travel is over.


“I live in Texas and we’ve been seeing a lot of Texas State Parks camping spots reserved but empty. Cancelling the spot appears to be hard to do or campers are just not cancelling.

The saddest time was at Palo Duro on a Tuesday – a lady was at the front desk asking about one overnight spot. They didn’t have any but our loop was only 1/3rd full. The empties had reserved signs on them.

Texas currently keeps the site reserved for the entire camping reservation. Maybe someday, they will do what Florida does and if you don’t show up on your first night or make arrangements, you are cancelled and refunded.” —Laura McKinney

What do you think about this?
What do you think about this?x

Make sure you join our Crowded Campgrounds Group on Facebook.


“When trying to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ often we just want to stop for the night to sleep, and then go the next morning. Cracker Barrel restaurants have been very accommodating, as have some sports stores. But with the economic horizon not favoring brick-and-mortar mini-malls (and the area is already plumbed and wired) I think a chain of stop-and-sleeps would be great. Like motel 6 for RVs.” —Tom B.

Full Campground
Photo by @tamikoinvestmts, Instagram

Now, on the other hand…

If you want to camp alone, go to the Grand Canyon?

“I work at a campground at the Grand Canyon and we are dead as a doorknob. I mean, we have never been more than 30% of capacity this entire season. It’s Labor Day weekend and we probably have 50 people in 300 spots. Everybody has room. Nothing’s going on. No one is here. The international borders are closed. Where are all these RV people we keep hearing about?” —Joy Hobbs

Read last week’s column on Crowded Campgrounds.

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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.


Reader letter: Worried about crowded campgrounds this summer

Will campgrounds be even more crowded in months ahead?

Can an RV park cancel your reservation for someone else?

Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodburyhttps://www.rvtravel.com
Emily Woodbury is the editor here at RVtravel.com. She was lucky enough to grow up alongside two traveling parents, one domestically by RV (yep, Chuck Woodbury) and the other for international adventures, and has been lucky to see a great deal of our world (and counting!). She lives near Seattle with her dog and chickens. When she's not cranking out 365+ newsletters for RVtravel.com she's hiking, cooking or, well, probably traveling.



0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Wolfgang (@guest_95700)
3 years ago

I experienced this problem in Florida for years. The State Parks spots are all reserved but there are many spots empty for days. The ranger telling you those spaces are reserved, period. Ask reserveamerica.com , end of discussion. I think the rv rental companies are making reservations for there customers and do not cancel. I doubt the FL state parks are canceling those no show reservations. I live in FL and can not find any camp spot at state parks with at least 2days the whole year. If I got one for 2 days we recognize all the empty space. Too bad…….

Kenneth (@guest_95519)
3 years ago

I think they should do what most RV parks do, if you don’t show up charge for the first night then open the spot up for people that need the space.

PennyPA (@guest_95458)
3 years ago

I think they should do as Florida does. Maybe then people will learn to make phone calls…either to cancel or to make arrangements for when they’re going to be late.

Pursuits712 (@guest_95409)
3 years ago

Some reservations we have made require payment in entirety up front. As long as the RVer doesn’t care about losing the money, it is still technically his right not to use it…paid for=own it. Reminds me of the toilet paper shortage. Some CGs require a rented site to be occupied. We have seen the “self first, others take care of themselves” mentality in a lot of areas in the past few months. Not the best side of humanity, but perhaps the most noticeable.

Christine M (@guest_95303)
3 years ago

I am a workamper. I just finished a season in a 400 site campground. We had to close a lot of sites due to Covid and social distancing. Maybe there is a logical reason behind most “Full Campground”. Or maybe the camp hosts are just lazy or shorthanded, and did not want to keep up with proper cleaning of used sites.

Captn John (@guest_95274)
3 years ago

Public or private all weekend reservations are 3 day minimum. Card on file. No show and charged for the night and site is open. Hit their wallet or no change

Rica S (@guest_95262)
3 years ago

TEXAS!! Wake UP!! Cancel those spots!!

ace (@guest_95258)
3 years ago

Have been an rver for a few decades and the issue right now is just a mirror of America and everyone wants to break the rules. Lots of rv parks with signs saying mask required but staff don’t wear, they pack the sites and allow large groups to sit with ofyen 25 people within a foot or two of each other next to another rv site…..its motivation to sell the diesel pusher and get a boat. Americans can’t and won’t follow rules.

Bill Fisher (@guest_95212)
3 years ago

We have been to some state parks where a sign said “Campground Full”, but found that it was half empty and the reserved cards on the posts at the “reserved” campsites indicated the reserve start day was two to five days in the future! Lazy hosts? I don’t know, but these parks are losing a lot of revenue.

Pursuits712 (@guest_95407)
3 years ago
Reply to  Bill Fisher

Often those 1-2 day future reservations are still empty because no one was looking for a one or two-night stay. Also happens a lot in parks with 2-3 night minimum stay rules.

Thomas (@guest_95166)
3 years ago

Many times,even before thus virus crisis we’d pull into a park and it’d be full but empty. I saw that most were reserved for the weekend. I asked for ” just tonight ” and never got refused. A little thought on the park management would go a long way. They knew nobody was going to use it until Friday night and the reserved signs indicated as much. Too much work to write up a permit for tonight? Look at all the lost revenue by people that would have stayed one night but passed because it was ” reserved “.

Sink Jaxon (@guest_95239)
3 years ago
Reply to  Thomas

“a little thought” being the key phrase here…sheesh!

WEB (@guest_95155)
3 years ago

Everyone seems to know or has experienced what the problem is, just don’t make RVTravel the only soapbox… contact your local officials, state officials or someone that can do something.
Maybe RVT can supply a page to make it easier to contact “local” people that are in a position to do something? Does the BBB take these complaints?

Dionyz (@guest_95144)
3 years ago

If you don’t show up the first night and don’t call to cancel or give reason for late arrival, there should be NO refund. You should be banned from the state/national reservation system for a minimum of one year and fined $500

Ron V (@guest_95252)
3 years ago
Reply to  Dionyz

We broke down on the way to GC reservation. Called the campground to let them know we would not make it. I think we had to eat the reservation cost, though. Spent the night at the dealership.

Walt Sinkhorn (@guest_95135)
3 years ago

Absolutely, Even Florida’s Reserve America system is loaded with flaws. I can’t tell you how many times my wife & I couldn’t get a site in a Florida State Campground. Or even worse, we had to book 2-3 different sites, 1 night in each site, we would move only to find the site we moved from remained empty the next night. On several occasions, the Ranger told us that all sites were reserved, yet we counted up to a dozen vacant sites. This occurs when we had to site hop!

Pursuits712 (@guest_95408)
3 years ago
Reply to  Walt Sinkhorn

If we see an empty one night site we try to call the office. Several times they have allowed us to come for the night although automated system would not allow.

wanderer (@guest_95131)
3 years ago

The Texas parks have gone from wonderful to, well, weird. I got to Cleburne on a Monday at 4 p.m., there was a sign ‘campground full’. Well, it wasn’t full, but I wasn’t allowed to make a reservation for that day. After quietly explaining I was really in need of a site, the ranger went in and found a bunch of sites I could have ‘for one night only’. I gratefully took one. Out of 9 sites on that loop, I was alone all night. It makes me angry to think of the people who spent the night in a truck stop or pushed on another hundred miles, because of that ‘full’ sign.

I’m thinking if you lock up a site for a weekend or worse, then don’t show or cancel, you need to lose your parks pass and anyone at your address is blocked from reserving a site for a period of years. Or your license plate is flagged as ‘do not admit’ to any park in the state.

Michael Buckley (@guest_95117)
3 years ago

good idea.

Sharon Boehmer (@guest_95114)
3 years ago

I have seen this in a few state parks in Texas and other states. Cancel the no show if no other arrangements made and keep 1 night fee.

Wayne (@guest_95107)
3 years ago

It’s imply rude not to cancel. We RVers pride ourselves on telling the rest of the world how to conduct themselves. Practice what you preach.

Eileen Brown (@guest_95147)
3 years ago
Reply to  Wayne

Agree, but boy, cancelling via Reserve America, which us what most of these states use, is NOT EASY! You cannot cancel on- line, must phone, and I have been on hold sometimes fir 45 minutes to one hour. Typically, I am trying to do this while we are moving, and naturally, the cell connection drops, and I must start all over. Unbelievably bad programming. Perhaps if we all start emailing the state park systems, they can exert pressure on RA for a systems change?

Alan Wood (@guest_95191)
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Brown

Wisconsin used Reserve America and now uses Camis USA Inc. It’s simple to cancel a reservation on their Website and your reservation fee is then refunded. I’ve had to cancel a few reservations last year and this year and it took less than 5 minutes to cancel.

Wolfgang (@guest_95703)
3 years ago
Reply to  Eileen Brown

You can cancel Reserve America reservation online. It is easy, go to your reservations and click on the reservation you made and there is a point “cancel reservation“ the bad part is they charge a lot of money as a cancellation fee.

manfred manville (@guest_95105)
3 years ago

I experienced the same thing at San Angelo state Park. I was the only camper all week long, but the majority of sites had Reserved placards on them

Tommy (@guest_95101)
3 years ago

I would like to see it where if you aren’t at the CG by, say, 6 pm (and haven’t made arrangements for a later arrival), you forfeit your reservation. I know this sounds “cruel and unusual”, but times have changed.

Sink Jaxon (@guest_95242)
3 years ago
Reply to  Tommy

State of Colorado has a 24 hour release, if you have a res for 3 days, and you are not in the site within 24 hours, they will release the site

wally (@guest_95273)
3 years ago
Reply to  Sink Jaxon

Good logical policy and practice.

Marilyn Haendel (@guest_95097)
3 years ago

Many folks are traveling now and not canceling a reservation when you know you aren’t coming is very rude and I was taught better. I agree with Florida’s policy.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.