Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Campground crowding. How long do you spend looking for reservations?

Updated weekly

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.


Sure, you see the crowded campgrounds and you hear your neighbor’s TV at night, but do you think of the effects this has on operating parks and campgrounds? Jim Bridge brings up something you may not have thought of: “We mostly boondock but the first-time owners and rentals are impacting public lands. Trash is being left behind at sites and disposal bins are overloaded. When full, their trash is left on the ground attracting animals and pests. One government employee told us it is impacting their operating budget and if it continues the area supervisor is threatening to close the areas to camping altogether. Pack it ALL out, folks.”


We’ve talked a lot about how newbie campers are probably just seasonal campers, but has anyone thought about what skyrocketing RV sales are going to do for RV storage facilities? RJ Weiman has, and he brings it to our attention. “It’s nice to see more people getting out and camping. People seem to be more open, more friendly when out camping. It’s always fun to make new friends. But, overcrowding is not good! Brings a downside with it. Some new people, for example, need camping stuff they don’t have. Some, I repeat, some will take what they need from their neighbors without asking. Theft becomes a problem.
All that said, I believe it is a fad like cowboy boots and Western wear. For some, it’s a way of life. For many others, it’s a short-lived interest. A fad! Just wait until they find out how much it costs to store their new camping trailer. That in itself is another problem. Storage facilities will most assuredly start raising their fees. Driving more people out.” Not only will they raise their fees, but we’ll likely need a whole lot more of them!


Yikes.. we’re happy we didn’t have to camp where Dennis Charpentier camped earlier this month. Listen to this: “Just returned from a frustrating 3-day stay at a campground we have been frequenting with our club for 40 years. Each night was a festival of unbelievable violations of camping ethics. Friday night was a treat watching the inexperienced, new 40+ foot, 5er crowd attempting to park their recently purchased RVs. Continuing through the weekend there were parties, loud music (we’re talking DJ speakers), overly lit camping areas, and carrying-on well into the night. This begs the question, ‘Where were the owners?’ … Probably counting their money from their bumped-up fees. This is the new ‘camping’ crowd everyone is talking about. I guess there is plenty to be learned in dealing with this new breed of camper.” As we say around here at RV Travel … OY!


Now Bob R. brings up a good point. He says, “We are traveling across the country, well, from Washington south to Arizona to Kentucky. My wife spends at least two hours a day on the phone looking for a place for a night. Around Utah and Arizona parks we found nothing available – had to keep going. We’re now in Williams as we had to backtrack 38 miles for one night. Hoping the trip as we go east gets a bit easier to find places to stay.” Dare we ask… How long do you think you (or your partner or travel companion(s)) spend looking for a site reservation? Whether it’s for that night, or a month or two in advance. Answer that in the comments, please. We’re curious.


We don’t know exactly what’s going on here, but it doesn’t sound good. Reader Jim Bury sent this in, and we don’t like what we hear. He wrote, “15 minutes into spaces being open for some Florida parks, they are ‘sold out.’ One guy in a popular Florida park told me how you ‘game’ the system to get the dates you need. He also mentioned how to get that prime waterfront view. He had 3 accounts! The rest I will let you guess…
My point is: Reserve America, clean up your act. I will work with state reps to get you replaced. You’re letting people get away with crazy stuff. Of course, you make money off it, not serving the campers or the residents of the state well!”


Richard Salmon is a lucky class B owner. He writes, “A class B RV has more advantages. I have found RV parks will put me into a tent site, without reservations. Smaller RV, smaller fees, better mileage, more miles per dollar spent. Camping and RVing are two entirely different animals.” Any other class B owners out there being able to reserve tent sites?


If so, you’re in luck! Reader Linda Peoples is selling 16 acres in Blount County, AL. Here’s what she has to offer, “Yes, I too have found campgrounds to be more crowded and more stressful. I have 16 acres of land off of I-65, 1/3 m next to the interstate in Blount County, Alabama, about 1 hour north of Birmingham, AL, for sale. It would make a beautiful, easily accessible campground.” If you’re interested, leave a comment below and we’ll put you in touch with Linda.

Read last week’s column on campground crowding here.

Don’t miss Nanci Dixon’s newest article, “A firsthand look at what it’s like to travel by RV with no reservations.” Click here to read.

Now, 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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Jeffrey Phillips (@guest_107115)
2 years ago

Regarding Tent Sites – When making reservations, I try to choose (if I’m allowed) a site as far away as I can get, from tent sites. Why? Because it’s been my experience that tent campers (not all) are loud, obnoxious/inebriated/messy and have little to no regard for fellow campers. While a tent site might be a viable option while traveling, just not my cup of tea. If it works for you, that’s great!

Michael (@guest_104250)
3 years ago

Join the Elks. Over 600 lodges have RV facilities; many others of the 2000 lodges will let you dry camp. We have been coast to coast, Fairbanks to Key West in 5 years of full-timing. Usually a friendly lodge nearby and have never been turned away. AllStays and OvernightRVParking also very useful. We will go Arizona to Newfoundland to Colorado next summer with no reservations.

Leo Suarez (@guest_100939)
3 years ago

I have always planned my RV trips a year in advance. We spend about 5-6 months on the road. Yes, that means I have all of my 2021 reservations already done. So more or less RV’s has out there has not affected my planning or ability to get the camp or spot I want. We do notice more small travel trailers with obvious novices in campgrounds these days. I know many people don’t like to plan so far ahead but for me, I find it enjoyable and I always have on the best sites in any given campground.

Goldie (@guest_100997)
3 years ago
Reply to  Leo Suarez

We do the same. Haven’t finished all of my reservations for 2021 yet but the longer stays are booked. All I have to do now is book the overnights, and I’m still over 6 mos. out so usually not a problem.

Arnie (@guest_100876)
3 years ago

You asked how far in advance should you plan your camping. Since retiring in February of last year, well before the virus, we saw this coming. So we plan months in advance 6-8. Our method is to pick an area of the US we want to tour and settle in the area for several weeks to 30 days. Then use the car to see the area. Yes, we are full time and yes we have run into some less desirable places but you just flow with the punches. Case in point, we got shut out of Canada, due to the virus, so we modified our plans to stay in Michigan much longer. Turned out great – we saw much more in Michigan than we had planned and now we want to go back – but not before the thaw!

Judy S (@guest_100857)
3 years ago

I, too, own a class B and have been able to get tent sites. Sometimes it’s a misnomer and simply means “small site.” It pays to check.

Plus, in early Oct (2020) in Yellowstone, all the campgrounds inside the park were closed for the season or “full” yet we found one open spot in which only a class B or car would fit.

wanderer (@guest_100780)
3 years ago

I travel widely all year, and yes, it’s time-consuming to find, book, and route to sites. I’m guessing 6 hours a week, though I use the apps and tools to speed it up. Often this year I will locate a perfect campground along my way, jot down all the particulars, only to find it has closed for repairs or for the season. And God help you if your account with Reserve America ever gets screwed up, it will take working for an hour with a kind state wizard to get you back in, if you can find one, meanwhile you are locked out of dozens of state systems.

It would seem phone-in private campgrounds would be easier, but lately they just don’t answer their phones enough for you to count on them, though for $40 a night you would think they could cover the phones say from 10-3 p.m.

Donald N Wright (@guest_100761)
3 years ago

June 2021 I will pass on seeing the Grand Teton NP. All sites that can be reserved are taken.
Everything else is “first come first served” with no central reservation system.Private campgrounds are closed, gone south for the winter. It must be rough when your campground is only open four months a year when it is not snowing.

agesilaus (@guest_100998)
3 years ago

You need to learn to boondock

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