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.
IF THIS IS THE NEW NORM, I QUIT!
“If parks stay as crowded as they are now, will you continue RVing? Here are Marty Koch’s thoughts on the matter: “Just got back from a two-month trip in the West. Driving north from West Yellowstone, Montana, I stopped at 6 Forest Service sites, all of which have gone to 100% advance reservations. Talked to the host in each spot and all said 30% of the sites went unused each night – all the while turning away upwards of 100 campers each night.
“I am a wanderer and cannot make plans 8 to 12 months in advance. It is my opinion that at least 40% of Forest Service spaces should be first-come first-served. There must be hundreds of thousands of us nomadic travelers that are being impacted by this.
“I was traveling in areas I am very familiar with and even dispersed camping areas 20-40 miles down rough gravel roads were full. I finally left the area and headed home because I could not deal with the lack of camping facilities, crowds and fire smoke. I stopped in the Moab, Utah area on the way home and once again areas down long rough desert roads were full. Trying to get out of Moab, which is not a very big town, I became caught in a 1-and-1/2-hour-long traffic jam.
“When I left my 400-plus site campground in Grand Teton, I counted 111 campers in line at [5:30] in the morning hoping to snag a site. If this is the new norm I doubt I will enjoy traveling for much longer.”
😦 😦 😦
Reader Montgomery Bonner might throw in the towel too. He wrote, “Have looked at campgrounds at Corps of Engineers (COE) parks, booked out till they close. Oh, a few 3 to 4 day openings, but for the distance I have to travel I want at least 5 days or more. We have several parks near home, but since the busy season is now, don’t want to pay $95 a night either. Think this is only going to get worse, not better. And with the economy in a mess, not sure it’s going to be feasible to afford to use the RV and camp next year. So we are talking about putting it up for sale. It’s the last one, if we do, we are done.”
HEY, RV MANUFACTURERS, GET OFF YOUR GREEDY REARS!
Of course, by now we all know that the solution to more RV sales is more RV parks and campgrounds. Easier said than done, of course, but perhaps it’s something the RV manufacturers should consider.
Here’s what Mark Generales wrote: “RVing is supposed to be relaxing and less stressful. Greedy RV manufacturers and their sales companies are too busy ringing up sales to care that they are destroying RV life. This WILL come home to roost. So Thor, Winnebago, and the rest – keep on cranking them out and know you are about to hit a wall – a very big one.
“If the RV manufacturers do not see the writing – the TOTAL LACK OF SITES – a crash is coming. If spending $20k on a travel trailer for a young couple can’t be used – or $399k for a DP – time will come the interest will die. Dozens upon dozens of used units at deep, deep discounts – and no buyers. Doubt me? Let’s go back to ’08 and ’09.
“Someone needs to capitalize, create a ‘Marriott’-type branded RV park and place it everywhere. Quality, predictable, and reasonable. I challenge the manufacturers to get off their greedy rears and wake up. Your demise is coming if you do not address this. Join together and create the RV Park brand. Give us someplace to go.”
😦 😦 😦
SO HERE’S WHAT YA GOTTA DO…
Alan Wolfe offers some advice on ways to find a campsite. He writes: “We have not been overwhelmed by crowded campgrounds or by not being able to get reservations yet. I suspect it is because of our current approach. We choose a couple of days, mid-week every other week or so. Our RV is equipped for almost any type of campsite, from hookups to boondocking (still adding new ways). The campgrounds have been fuller than the past, but our flexibility in date, type of site, and which campground have allowed us to find a way so far.”
MORE NEIGHBORS, MORE COMPLAINTS
Crowded campgrounds, we’re guessing, go hand-in-hand with more complaints. Wouldn’t you agree? Here’s an example from reader Dosinda Linden. “Arrived in Paso Robles: much more crowded this trip (late September) than our previous trips. We intend to do a lot more off-season traveling: fall and winter, rather than our previous, spring and summer schedule.
“Crowded campgrounds lead to a more guarded attitude amongst the transient population: folks, whether staff or neighbors, are not as friendly or helpful as they were during our pre-COVID-19 days. Still, we are having a good time being “away,” despite the complaint received by the office staff that we were playing our indoor music too loud. Such an activity never bothered anyone else before, but with most narrow spaces filled, we must closely regulate our activities, so as not to disturb our stand-offish neighbors.”
SO, IS ALL THIS TEMPORARY?
As Mark mentioned up above, maybe this boom in RV sales and crowded RV parks is temporary. What will happen if everyone, like Marty and Montgomery, throw in the towel and sell their RVs? Reader Joseph Weinstein thinks it is temporary. Here’s what he wrote, “We are not finding it more difficult to book because we plan early. We do see more campgrounds full. I don’t think this will last. I think the boom in RV sales is going to provide a significant ‘used’ market in about 2 years as many of the people who are now purchasing RVs are going to find they need continual maintenance, they break down, and there is a continuing expense to own one.”
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.