Saturday, September 30, 2023


Campground crowding. Discussion for September 26, 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.


Last week reader Brenda Mentzer brought up the question: Why do we struggle to find a spot when there are so many empty spots in the campground? Well, Barbara, and others of you wondering, reader Don Boldman might have an answer: “Recently we stayed at Mother Neff State Park in Texas with a couple of friends. We were told by the park rangers that they were blocking seventy-five percent of the sites because of the virus. This was one of the nicest parks we have stayed in and the sites were very large and spaced apart.” Don went on to say that campgrounds shouldn’t have to follow the same rules as restaurants, since everyone is confined to their own space far away from others.


A reader who goes by the name “Little Leftie” writes, “Living on the East coast of Canada, with the border between our countries closed, we have found that campground reservations are much easier to obtain this year, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. We, luckily, own our own recreational property and spend a lot of our time there but did do some traveling within our Atlantic bubble. Actually, most campground owners are struggling with a greatly diminished income this year due to no campers from away. And RV sales are also down, according to the reports.” Ah, fascinating! Well, Little Leftie, I think many of us would be up there if we could!


Even places that used to be completely empty are filling up. Lisa Trujillo notices a change. She writes, “I’m not your typical RVer, or at least I like to think so. I have a Roadtrek that I use mostly traveling from point A to point B. I stay in hotels or cabins once I’m at my destination. This year my usual overnight RV park stops are full. These are places that were practically empty every time I stopped, for years. Without a doubt there are way more RVs out on the road.”

Make sure you join our Crowded Campgrounds Group on Facebook.


Caravans or other company-led tours might just be the way to go. Is that something you’d ever consider? Here’s what reader Tim Bock has to say. “We have found many more issues with finding available sites this year. Sometimes the frustrating searches worked out, but often we had to change travel plans because we were unsuccessful. We are planning to take several organized caravans next year to alleviate our frustration and hopefully things may get back to normal after that. We kind of expect the market to be flooded with used RVs sometime in the future.”


Wow! Do people really do this? Dick Ross writes, “My biggest complaints this year are reserved but empty campsites and people coming in on Monday or Tuesday to first-come first-serve Forest Service campgrounds, dropping their camper and then leaving until Friday. I stay primarily in FS and BLM campgrounds in the NW and this happens all too often. In forest service campgrounds the rules normally clearly state that the “site must be occupied the first night and not be unoccupied for more than 24 hours during the stay.” This rule is never enforced because the CG hosts have no authority to evict campers. They have to call the FS or BLM. Campground hosts need to be able to enforce the rules or the authorities who can enforce them need to be more available.”


Last week Michelle Everett told you to go to Florida if you want a reservation. Leo Suarez agrees. “I agree with the comment regarding Florida. My wife and I just spent two weeks around the Fort Pierce area. The campground had about 160 sites. There were about 4 campers the whole time we were there. We had the pool to ourselves every single day. Yes, Florida is hot this time of year but pool, beaches, and plenty of golf courses still makes it pleasant.” That sounds pretty nice, Leo! Anyone else care to join?

Read last week’s column on Crowded Campgrounds.

Some questions for you:

• 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.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.


Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury
Emily Woodbury is the editor here at 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 she's hiking, cooking or, well, probably traveling.


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Tom Horn
2 years ago

One of the answers to the over crowding is to have your rig set up for Freedom Docking at a moments notice. For example, If you make a reservation at a campground, get there and it totally sucks for any number of reasons then you need the option of telling the campground to take a hike. Don’t be a slave to the RV parks. RVing Is not going to get any better then it is right now. Spend the money and get the rig ready for Freedom Docking. Practice the art of Freedom Docking, your going to need the option to survive in the future Camping World Jungle. (Freedom Docking is formerly known as Boondocking) lol

Richard Hubert
3 years ago

RE: OH, NO, THEY DIDN’T… Totally agree. Have noticed this summer in virtually all N.P. and N.F. campgrounds which take – or require – reservations that as many as 75% of the “reserved” sites are unoccupied. Talked with rangers & hosts about this and they agree that many reservations seem to be made by people who do not mind losing the price of a few nights camping reservation if they do not feel like showing up. Totally unfair to those arriving w/o a reservation because unused sites sit empty. Wish the CG rangers & hosts would enforce the 1st night rule to help stop this abuse.

Tommy Molnar
3 years ago

For what it’s worth, the RV park we’re currently staying at (Lakeview RV Resort) in Houston Texas always has many sites unoccupied. But it IS in Houston, and this time of year is not prime visiting time. It’s hot, muggy, and this year, exceptionally rainy. They are currently adding about 80 new sites and say they should be ready early next year. This really IS a beautiful park even though it’s a bit noisy,

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